Are we as Christians and Americans HAPPY with the level of gun violence? The devotion from Luther Seminary this morning quoted Psalm 33:12-22. Verse 12 reads: “Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people God has chosen as God’s heritage.” I am not happy. I want to be happy.

Two articles, seemingly unconnected, made me unhappy, yet pointed the way to happiness. The first was from GUNS DOWN AMERICA. Responding to the gun tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, the article focused on a House Oversight Committee hearing where leaders of gun manufacturers were questioned. They all asserted that “gun violence was a national tragedy and should be stopped.” The committee asked them if they would “. . . commit to ending the production of assault weapons, or just adopting simple safety features on their firearms. . . . The response was a resounding ‘No!'” GDA reports that “Across the last decade, five of the leading manufacturers of assault rifles brought in $1.7 billion in revenue from these guns alone. . . . . Both Sturm, Ruger & company and Daniel Defense saw their assault rifle sales triple between 2019-2021.” They continued to call assault rifles “modern sporting rifles.”

Ryan Busse, a former firearms executive, says, as the gun industry sought to grow their sales amid a dwindling customer base, “. . . they realized that there was an imaging problem, so they invested a lot of money in focus groups and decided the AR-15 could be marketed and rebranded in a way that it might have mass appeal if they just changed the name and disavowed ‘assault rifle’.”

The other article was from Michael A. Cohen, titled “Equally mean policies and insults characterize today’s Republican Party”. He quoted Donald Trump in a recent speech when he called for “executing drug dealers, . . . removing thousands of homeless people from American cities and making them live in tents on ‘large parcels of inexpensive land in the outer reaches of the cities.'” Missouri Governor Mike Parsons, signed a bill making it a crime to sleep on state-owned lands, and violators can be fined up to $750 or sentenced up to 15 days in prison. Texas and Tennessee have also adopted similar laws. Furthermore, Republican dominated states are adopting positions banning abortion, being anti-LGBTQ, making it more difficult for kids to access gender-affirming health care, refusing to support legislation codifying same-sex marriage. “Indeed, the states with the most restrictive abortion laws are the most likely to offer the most meager social services. Mississippi, which is preparing to outlaw abortion, has some of the highest infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates in the country. . . . and a handful of red states still refuse to expand Medicaid more than 12 years after it was signed into law.” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla, called women who wanted to have an abortion “disgusting” and too unattractive for anybody to want to have sex with them.

The articles unearth profit, fear and denial of truth and compassion as pesticides for living. It is not an accident that gun violence and gun sales have increased dramatically as social forces have aroused our passions and goaded our consciences. Too often we choose unregulated guns as our god; and profit, fear, denial of truth and compassion as our heritage. This connection is debilitating. We will be happy only as we live out our heritage as all people, Republicans and Democrats, created in the Image of God, . . .”whose hope is in God’s steadfast love.” (Psalm 33:18) It is this love that transforms our thinking and guides our decisions.

Blessings and Peace!
Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)