Creating and succeeding in moving gun violence prevention (GVP) forward demands patience and persistence. Indeed, it is usually a LONG SLOG. Resistance is vigorous with passionate personal and political head winds.
Many gun owners feel defensive and believe that if you give an inch and support gun safety laws it is a step towards the government coming to take your guns and making you defenseless against an intruder. Many politicians are fearful of supporting any gun safety laws because they believe they will alienate their supporters and lead to their election defeat. Furthermore, supporters believe it is their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and any step in an effort to limit this right is seen as a betrayal of their Constitutional rights.
The result is inaction in state houses and in Washington. Bills such as Universal Background Checks and Extreme Risk Protection Orders are not even given committee time for debate. Statistical and moral arguments are like whistling in the wind.
Yet,the truth is that states having the lowest gun violence rates also have the most focused laws such as those mentioned, and even tighter laws which demand licensing, safety training, clearance through law enforcement and registration in some form. However, overwhelmingly, most states are hesitant to take a deeper dive into GVP law making.
THE SLOG IS LONG! But we persist! Groups like Protect Minnesota, Brady, Moms Demand Action, Giffords and ENGAGE continue to go public with visions and demands for gun safety laws. We urge the passing of responsible laws to protect people and not to arbitrarily take guns from responsible people. These groups believe in fair and Constitutional gun rights, rights that allow for gun ownership for responsible people. ENGAGE persists by hosting quarterly seminars on Zoom . We have discussed the SMART in-home gun safety program (see BLOG). We discussed mental health and gun safety featuring two local doctors. We host a weekly ENGAGE: Connecting the Dots online conversation to discuss relevant GVP issues. If you wish to join the conversation, send me an email and I will send you the link. ENGAGE leads presentations in congregations, participates in GVP rallies at the State Capitol, sponsors resolutions for our SPAS Assemblies, administers a Facebook presence (ENGAGE-ELCA) and provides resources on the engageelca.org website.
The Biblical witness is familiar with THE LONG SLOG. The Old Testament recounts the 40 years in the Wilderness during the Exodus, the centuries of the 12 Tribes struggling to form the People of God in the Promised Land, Jesus time in the Wilderness. The Book of Acts shares the efforts of forming the new Church, and the Epistles expound the theologies of early witness. Commence the Church! 2000 years of witness, pain, glory, struggle and boldness! We Christians are used to THE LONG SLOG!
Psalm 126 is sustenance during our GVP LONG SLOG: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream . . . . The Lord has done great things for us and we rejoiced . . . . Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy . . . .” This is our hope! Our driver! Our sustainer! WE SLOG ON in hope, driven by God’s call, and sustained by God’s grace in Christ!
Blessings and Peace!
Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)