A Conversational Guide to Address
Gun Violence Prevention (GVP)
A Project of
Protect Minnesota: Inter-Faith Alliance
ENGAGE Public Witness Work Group
of the St. Paul Area Synod-ELCA
Rev. Dr. Ronald Letnes
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Prelude …………………………………………………………. 1
Session 1 – Creation and Choice ……………………………. 3
Session 1 – Take Home Guide ……………………………….. 6
Session 2 – Peacemakers Within a Gun Culture …………… 8
Session 2 – Take Home Guide ………………………………..12
Session 3 – Render to Caesar ……………………………….. 14
Session 3 – Take Home Guide ……………………………….. 19
Session 4 – Hope is Rendering to God …………………….. 22
Session 4 – Take Home Guide ………………………………..27
Benediction …………………………………………………….. 29
Additional Resources …………………………………………. 30
We Would Like to Hear Your Comments……………………. 30
Writer’s Bios …………………………………………………… 30
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR
Jesus said to them, “You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart, and with all your soul, and
with all your mind . . . . You shall love your
neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 22:37 and 39
Gun violence has become a public health issue making headlines nationally and locally. This curriculum seeks to provide a faith-based guide for Christians to practice their faith to prevent gun violence in the home, community, places of work, state and nation.
The Church is the community of Christ. We gather in our diversity of person and politics, values and persuasions, ages and genders, abilities and disabilities to bend our knees, sing the praises of God, love each other and engage the conversation around GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION (GVP). We gather to learn and discuss, be informed and empowered for discipleship. We are enlightened and called to witness beyond these walls into all places of life.
In Jesus, through the Church, we are sent to save life, to create a culture of nonviolence in the midst of an all too frequent gun violent culture. Weapons that can offer recreation and joy, also cause tears of grief, stir anger with a tool of sorrow, and unleash hatred to death.
The style of LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR (LYN) encourages: 1) Conversation and not lecture. We recommend groups sit in a circle, or if the group is large, groups of about eight. The leader can sit as part of the one group or oversee all of the groups; 2) Gentle nudging of comments by borrowing a Native American Talking Stick practice, where an object is presented by the leader who makes a comment and then passes the stick/object to the person next to them who is invited to comment. They can choose to “pass” and pass the stick
to the person next to them; 3) Liturgical spirit through inclusion of the Word, prayers and songs/hymns; 4) Sharing of final reflections during the Candle Power time. Light a candle, turn out the lights and have each person take the candle as it is passed and offer their reflections;
5) Final processing of each session with comments and questions, kind of like an informal open forum on the session.
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR (LYN) will consider Biblical texts, offer prayers and songs to sing. LYN will offer statistics and engage analytics for discussion. LYN will provide artistic expressions and inter-active exercises for deeper involvement. LYN will allow for flexible conversation in your congregation and at home if desired. Feel welcome to cover both CHURCH and IN-HOME sessions together. Include your familiar songs or hymns. LYN will allow our nation’s Founding Documents and history to inform and shape our attitudes and actions.
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR encourages conversation to promote gun safety and enjoyment, and to address personal and community gun violence. It is our hope that through our engagement we can save lives and enhance our gun owning environment by stressing protection and risk reduction. It is our hope that we listen respectfully to each other. It is our hope that we will have made a difference for loved ones and loved strangers, bringing the Light of the Peace-Christ to all.
Blessings and Peace
Leona and Ron
on behalf of
Protect Minnesota-Interfaith Alliance
Creation and Choice
PRAYER: Creator, God, we come before you with concerns for gun violence. Help us keep open minds and open hearts as we struggle with this issue. Bless and keep all who have been affected by gun violence. Give us the power through your Name to take actions that might prevent gun violence in our homes, communities, churches, state and nation. Amen
Growing up in small town Minnesota, I played cowboys and Indians, army, the Old West “draw” challenge and cavalry. I had my plastic Tommy Gun and Burp Gun, as well as cap popping six-shooters. I graduated to a BB Daisy Defender, a .22 rifle and 410 shotgun. It was fun playing conquerer, hunter and protector. Then came the ‘60s and all changed. The assassinations of JFK, Medgar Evers, MLK, Jr. and RFK, coupled with the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam, plus being influenced by writings and speeches advocating nonviolence, and finally learning to read the Bible through the lens of the nonviolent Christ transformed me. I began to understand guns and how they were used differently. Questions of appropriate use, personal use and political implications became more nuanced, leading to a decades-long commitment to gun violence prevention (GVP).
What brings YOU to this conversation? What gun experiences have YOU had that stir YOU to attend LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR?
Statistics (Review together)
Every six minutes a shooting incident occurs; a shooting death every
Men represent more than 90% of homicide perpetrators.
Males complete 4 to 6 times as many suicides as females.
In 2017, there were 14,637 shooting deaths and an estimated
24,000 gun suicides.
Women in the USA are 21x more likely to be killed with a gun than in
other high income countries (HIC).
The presence of a gun in the home makes it 5x more likely that a
woman will be murdered by an abusive domestic partner.
In 2017, 3,410 children and youth died of gun violence.
According to the Journal of Medicine, the U.S. gun homicide rate is
25x greater and suicide rate is 8x greater than other Western
From 2001-2013, guns killed more people than AIDS, illegal drug
overdose, wars and terrorism combined.
Gun violence is the second leading cause of death of children and
youth in the USA.
Gun violence is the leading cause of death for African-American
males ages 15-34, and second leading cause of death for
Latino males in the same age group.
More than three people are shot each day.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth 10-24. Those
ages 50-60 are also at risk.
Gun suicides increased 65% between 2000-2017. Homicides
Guns are used in 51% of all suicides.
Between 2000-2017, gun deaths increased by 50% and nationally
Between 2014-2018, there were 18 mass shootings in Minnesota.
A mass shooting is described as 4 or more people killed or
injured, not including the shooter.
In 2017, there were 358 car deaths, 401 opioid deaths and 465 gun
deaths of which 365 were suicides (79%).
In 2017, 79% of gun deaths were suicides with about 75% being
committed by males.
Read the two Creation stories in Genesis 1-2. The stories emphasize harmony, nonviolence and Shalom (Hebrew word for peace and wholeness).
What is God’s will for Creation? For people?
Do you think nonviolence is God’s will?
Are we called to be obedient to God’s will?
What could this mean for gun violence prevention (GVP)
On your iPhone or computer, Google Edwin Hicks’ portrait of “A Peaceable Kingdom”. What do you see? Are there implications for GVP? What do you see as God’s will for the “kin-dom”?
Discuss Isaiah 2:4: “. . . they shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
What is God’s will for weapons?
How could this text relate to GVP?
VIOLENCE AS CHOICE
God’s will is nonviolence. Yet, violence occurs by human choice.
READ: Genesis 4:1-10. Cain kills his brother, Abel.
Out of jealousy, Cain CHOSE to kill his brother.
Can we say the same for gun violence?
Can we say that we can also CHOOSE to NOT do gun violence?
Can we say that we can choose to write laws to help prevent GV?
Can we say that if we are a gun owner we can make decisions to make our homes more gun safe?
CANDLE POWER (Light a candle and have each person hold it and
comment, passing it to the next person.) What did I learn? PRAYER: Enlighten us, O Christ, about your nonviolent will. Stir us to choose GVP. Amen
Participant Take Home Guide
PRAYER: O, nonviolent Jesus, open our persons to the Truth of your
Word, that we may reflect the reality of your Eden Creation.
SHARING: What gun violence events have happened since we last
met in church? What do you think and feel?
What is a movie/TV program you have seen that is
Is there a difference between gratuitous gun violence and
violence within a human story?
If children, ask how they feel about active shooter drills?
READ: The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17
You shall have no other gods.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.
Honor your father and mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female
slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to
Do the Ten Commandments promote violence or nonviolence?
What are the implications for GVP?
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
In 1967, Gov. Ronald Reagan of California, signed into
law the Mulford Act which banned the carrying of
loaded weapons in public. Republicans and Democrats
in California supported increased gun control. Governor
Reagan, who was coincidentally present on the Capitol
lawn when the protestors arrived, later commented that he saw
no reason why “on the street today a citizen should be
carrying loaded weapons [and that guns were a] ridiculous
way to solve problems that have to be solved among people
of good will.” In a later press conference, Reagan added that the Mulford Act “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.”
What are your thoughts about Governor Reagan’s words and action?
CANDLE POWER: What are my learnings from this session?
PRAYER: Creator God, enlighten us with courage to model your Eden
in our time and choose to live nonviolently. Amen
SONG: “When Pain of the World Surrounds Us” ELW 704
Peacemakers Amidst a Gun Culture
PRAYER: Good and gracious God, let there be peace within a gun culture, and let it begin with me. Amen
SHARING: Who do you know that is a peacemaker person? What
characteristics qualifies him/her for that distinction?
Jesus Christ (crucified) “Love”
Martin Luther King, Jr. (Assassinated) “We must put an
end to violence or violence will put an end
Aeschuylus: Greek poet who wrote “Let us tame the
savageness of man and make gentle life
in the world.” (Quoted by Sen Robert
Kennedy announcing the assassination of
MLK, Jr. Kennedy was assassinated two
months later with a handgun)
Rep. Gabby Giffords: Former U.S, House Representative
from Arizona who was shot, nearly killed
and is crippled, who now heads a major GVP
Emma Gonzales and David Hogg: Survivors of the
Parkland shooting who are youth leaders
What are your thoughts and memories about the above people?
How could their lives inspire us to create a safer gun culture?
YOU TUBE: Vince Gill (“Let there Be Peace on Earth”)
SCRIPTURE: Read Matthew 5:1-16, part of Jesus’ Sermon on the
Do Jesus’ words reinforce nonviolence?
What do the words say to me?
What does it mean to us that Jesus announces that
each of us is the light of the world and salt of the earth?
What does it mean to be a gun owner and follow these
verses from the Sermon on the Mount?
Do guns fit with the Beatitudes? How? How not?
Do the Beatitudes fit with GVP? How? How not?
Would Jesus pack an AR-15? Handgun? Shotgun?
Would Jesus hunt or target shoot?
PAX CHRISTI VOW OF NONVIOLENCE
Pax Christi is a Roman Catholic peace community. The community vows to practice the nonviolence of Jesus as taught in the
Sermon on the Mount. Some of the vows are:
Striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker
in my daily life;
Accepting suffering other than inflicting it;
Refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
If you are a gun owner, or if you are not, in the midst
of our state and national gun culture, what vows can
I make for gun safety and gun violence prevention?
Write them out and share them.
Read Galatians 5:22-25
If we put these fruits into action, what would our homes, schools, communities look like?
Would it be fair to consider the Fruits of the Spirit as nonviolent?
PRACTICING THE FRUITS
In groups of seven, form a circle, shoulder to shoulder,
with one person in the middle. The middle person crosses
their arms in front of their chest. Those in the circle put
hands chest high. The middle person stiffens body, closes
eyes, and falls backwards. The circle people gently pass
the middle person round the circle. Give all interested
an opportunity to be in the middle.
How did you feel as the person in the middle? The circle?
Did you feel responsible for the middle person?
What was your trust level?
What FRUITS were expressed in this exercise?
Christians are given the Fruits of the Spirit as means of witness.
What does it mean for you to practice the Fruits of the Spirit?
There are 16 instances of healing by Jesus that involve touch. Loving touch is a form of empathy. Dr. James Garbarino, in his book on gun violence, called Lost Boys, p. 114, writes:
“Depersonalization and desensitization open the door to
unlimited possibilities for violence. When we depersonalize
others, we fail to see their individuality, their humanity,
and treat them in an impersonal way. If empathy is the
enemy of violence, depersonalization is its ally.”
Loving touch is gentle personalization, the empathic nonviolent healing graced by Jesus. A way to practice empathic healing is an exercise called “Mirroring.” Here is a way to experience Mirroring.
Google: “Beautiful Savior” or “O Day Full of Grace”
sung by the Concordia Choir
Find a partner.
Sit in a chair or on the floor facing each other.
Hold up hands to mirror each other’s.
Decide who will lead.
Begin playing the hymn
Move hands as how the music moves you.
The other person will mirror the other’s hands.
Half way through the song, switch with the other leading.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS
RESPOND TO THE STATEMENT IN THE LARGE GROUP: Guns are not gentle. Guns are inherently offensive. Guns are made to kill people, to hunt game, to defend one’s family or self, to defend one’s nation against aggression, and to sport shoot for fun and recreation. One pulls the trigger and the bullet fires forward towards and against another person, animal or target. Guns are not gentle. Guns are offensive.
If by the grace of God we are given the Fruits
of the Spirit of Christ, how, within a gun culture,
can we live out the Fruits?
PRAYER: Prayer attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, but to console;
To be understood, as to understand; To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
SONG: “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” (ELW 815)
Take Home Guide
PRAYER: You have called us to be gun peacemakers, O God. Guide us to be gun safe that we may live the love you have given us. Amen
BIBLICAL SHARING: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love
is from God.” I John 4:7
How can we love one another with guns in the home?
SHARING: What kind of guns do you have in your home?
CONSIDERING GUN IN-HOME SAFETY
Nationally, 4.6 million children live in homes where
guns are unlocked and loaded.
(Giffords Law Center)
Of all gun deaths each year, 1.3% are unintentional.
About 1500 children are killed by guns each year.
HERE ARE SOME IN-HOME SAFETY GUIDELINES:
(Sources: WebMD, CBS Chicago, Kids’ Health, Childsafe, NRA, DNR)
Install gun locks or cable loops on all guns
Store guns in steel locking case or safe
Make certain guns are unloaded
Store ammunition separately in locked safe or case
Store keys to cases in a hidden location
Take a gun safety course
Lock-up cleaning supplies which are poisonous
Never leave a gun unattended
Parents, inquire about guns in the homes your child visits
If you come into contact with a gun,
Do not touch the gun
Tell an adult
Leave the area where the gun is found
If your friend or someone has a gun, LEAVE the area and
tell an adult or your parents.
WHAT SAFETY GRADE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR HOME?
CANDLE POWER: What did I learn about being a gun peacemaker?
What can I do to be a gun peacemaker?
PRAYER: Holy Jesus, lover of all, teach us to be gun peacemakers.
SONG: “They’ll Know We Are Christians” by Fr. Peter Scholtes
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.
We are one in the Spirit,we are one in the Lord.
And we pray that all unity will one day be restored.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Render to Caesar
Gun violence prevention calls forth political action. Political action addresses the common good. We care for others beyond our personal spheres. We care for the diverse human community of all races, all classes and all cultures. We care for the stranger close and distant.
PRAYER: O God, stir us to actions that promote nonviolence, especially laws that offer GVP in ways that make our communities and state safer places to live. Amen
SHARING: What do I feel I have a RIGHT to do? Is there a difference between RIGHTS and LOVE?
THE WORD: Read Romans 13: 1-7.
What are your thoughts after hearing Paul’s words?
What is the purpose of government?
Why does God give us government?
What is the purpose of taxes?
Why are we asked to obey the government?
Are there limits to obedience?
READ: Romans 12:9-10 and Romans 13:8-10
What does it mean that LOVE bookends the purpose
Could it be that the purpose of government
is to ensure the blossoming of love to create order in society?
READ: Mark 12:13-17
Is there a legitimate place for governmental laws?
If a government can legitimately tax, could not the
government pass GVP laws?
OUR NATION’S FOUNDATIONAL DOCUMENTS
The Declaration of Independence reads: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
What are implications of these words for GVP?
Could these words imply limits to gun ownership?
Could we say that gun owners and non-gun owners
have equal rights?
1How do these words address gun safety?
What is the difference between GVP and gun ownership rights?
The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution includes: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty….”
What could these words imply about gun ownership?
Are gun regulations permitted?
When are guns permitted?
Who ought/not to have guns?
Are laws necessary to insure domestic tranquility?
Laws to promote the general welfare?
Can laws promote GVP?
What does WE THE PEOPLE mean for GVP?
GUERNICA is a giant mural created by Pablo Picasso, hanging in the Reine Sophia Museum in Madrid, Spain. It depicts a tragic bombing that occurred during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. Guns and bombs are the necessities of war.
Describe what you see in the mural.
Are there justifiable reasons for guns?
What does this mural say about “providing for the common defense”?
Is there a difference between “providing for the common
defense” and citizens having the right to own personal
What are implications for GVP?
APPROPRIATE GUN USE?
READ: When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed King over Israel, all the Philistines went up in search of David…. David
inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you
give them into my hand? So David came to Baal-Perazim, and David defeated them there.” II Samuel 5:17-20
How could this story relate to our Constitution and guns
about the right of defense?
THE SECOND AMENDMENT
TEXT: A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
HISTORY: There were many reasons for the Second Amendment: 1)The United States had a minimal standing army, in large part because it was expensive and we had just fought and won a revolutionary war leaving us with fewer financial resources; 2) Militias were believed necessary as a counter-weight to a possible tyrannical federal government; 3) The United States was a large frontier nation, and each state needed a way to protect itself; 4) Slave-owning states needed the means to suppress slave rebellions; 5) States were concerned about controlling the Native American threat; 6) Local policing was in its infancy and states needed a militia to provide security and order; 7) Since the United States was still a frontier nation, people needed to have weapons for hunting and personal protection.
NOTE: States had to keep track of the number of guns and munitions available in order to ascertain the adequacy of their militia forces. There was a form of “registration and regulation” of arms and munitions as a result.
ALSO: There was a direct relationship between the need for militias and the keeping of personal arms. The people were the “army.” There was a balance between the need to provide a protective militia and personal need.
A HISTORICAL NOTE
“When the United States’ Constitution was adopted, each state had its own militia… comprised of ordinary citizens serving as part-time
soldiers. The purpose of the militia was to secure each state against threats from without (invasions) and threats from within (riots). . . . But it was clear that the militia was to be used to help defeat
insurrections.” (David Hemenway of Harvard University quoting a study by Rakove)
THE NRA (National Rifle Association) AND THE SECOND AMENDMENT
Too frequently, the first part of the Second Amendment relating to a “well regulated militia” is omitted in the NRA insistence upon unqualified individual gun rights. The NRA does not include the militia portion at its’ entrance to their National Headquarters, only engraving “…the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Is this omission honest to history?
Are societal-political needs being sacrificed
by insistence upon individual rights?
Is there a rightful balance?
Is there a distinction between GVP and individual rights?
In the United States v. Miller (1939), the Supreme Court argued unanimously that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to “secure the viability of state militias.” The focus was on militias, not on individual rights. (Private Guns-Public Health by David Hemenway)
“Appearing on PBS in 1991, former Chief Justice
Warren Burger, a conservative, described the individual
rights theory as a ‘fraud.’ “[The Second Amendment] has
been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of
‘fraud’ on the American people by special interest
groups that I have seen in my lifetime.”
(Guns Down by Igor Volsky)
What are your thoughts?
HOWEVER, in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms for lawful use, such as self-defense in the home. YET, the majority also said this right was NOT an absolute right, and a wide range of gun control laws remain “presumptively lawful.” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” These include laws that: 1) Prohibit concealed carry weapons; 2) Prohibit possession by felons and the mentally retarded; 3) Prohibit carrying firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings; 4) Impose conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms; 5) Prohibit dangerous and unusual weapons; 6) Regulate firearms storage to prevent accidents. (cgt.ct.gov)
How does the Heller decision color the NRA position of near unqualified, unregulated firearm ownership?
What are GVP implications, gun safety implications
of the Heller decision?
Are GVP laws permitted?
REVIEW: Earlier we reflected on Paul’s support of governmental responsibility for keeping order. (Romans 12-13). In light of Romans, the Constitution and Supreme Court decisions, what can we learn about limitations and regulations of gun use?
Does the government have a place in GVP?
What does it mean that WE are the government?
CANDLE POWER: My feelings and thoughts are . . . .
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
SONG: “O God of Every Nation” ELW 713
Take Home Guide
PRAYER: Holy Jesus, assist us in discovering the balance between governmental and societal regulation and individual rights. Amen
SHARING: What are my thoughts and impressions of “Render to Caesar” session?
BIBLICAL DIVE: Read Micah 6:8. “What does the Lord require of us but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” Could we say the following:
JUSTICE: Concern for the common good, including
ourselves yet also inclusive of all.
KINDNESS: Nonviolent living
HUMBLY WITH GOD: God, Jesus is our prime guide
for addressing life issues.
In light of RENDER TO CAESAR, what could Micah say
WESTERN DEVELOPED NATION GUN VIOLENCE COMPARISON
(GV per 100,000 people – World Population Review 2019)
New Zealand 0.99
The common denominator of countries with lesser GV is STRONGER,
TOUGHER RESTRICTIVE GUN LAWS.
On 28 April, 1996, a gunman in Port Arthur massacred 35 people and wounded 18. The Australian government passed laws: 1) Banned automatic and semi-automatic weapons; 2) Introduced new licensing requirements; 3) Instituted a national firearms registry; 4) Instituted a 28 day waiting period for gun purchases; 5) Bought and destroyed over 600,000 civilian-owned guns that cost $1/2 billion dollars and funded by raising taxes. The result was a decline of homicides by 59% and suicides by 65%. (NOTE: On the above list of nations, USA gun death rate is over five times higher than the AUS)
In response to the Christ Church massacres at two mosques in 2019, leaving 51 dead, the NZ government banned military-style semi-
automatic weapons and instituted a mandatory buy-back program. Also, new laws under consideration are: 1) Registry to monitor every
firearm legally held; 2) Individuals have to renew their gun licenses every five years instead of the present 10 years; 3) Gun owners must get a license; 4) More funding for mental health support; 5) Require doctors to report any patients who may have mental health issues. Prime Minister Jacinda Adern says “Owning a firearm is a privilege and not a right.” (NOTE: On the above list of nations, USA gun death is at least five times higher than the NZ)
What do you think of Prime Minister Adern’s statement?
Is she going too far?
Would you hope our leadership would say the same?
AGREE OR DISAGREE: We can honor the Declaration of Independence and Constitution and have stronger GVP laws.
Do WE THE PEOPLE have the right and duty to
enact tougher GVP laws?
CANDLE POWER: My thoughts and feelings are . . . .
PRAYER: Guide us, O God of Life, that we may protect the preciousness of life that you have graciously given us. Amen
SONG: “Canticle of the Turning” ELW 723
Hope is Rendering to God
Rendering to God means surrendering to DOING God’s will of nonviolence in advocating for GVP in our homes, communities and state. It is in this rendering that we bring hope for lessening gun violence. Hope evolves through action.
PRAYER: What are we to do, O God of love? What are actions of love? Amen
BIBLICAL SHARING: Matthew 22:37 and 39: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
AFFIRMATION OF BAPTISM
You have made public profession of your faith. Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in Holy Baptism . . . .
. . . to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?
What are the implications for GVP?
WHAT CAN WE DO?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens
can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
We are called to PERSONAL and POLITICAL actions.
Consider the following facts and stories, where lack of in home safety may have been a factor.
Almost 45% of all households in Minnesota own at least one gun.
Guns in the home are 22x more likely to be used to shoot a family
member (accident, homicide or suicide) than for self defense.
The presence of a gun in the home doubles the risk of homicide and triples the risk of suicide.
Women who live in a home with a gun are 5x more likely to be murdered by their domestic partner.
More than 75% of guns used in suicide attempts and unintentional injuries of those 19 and under are stored in the home of the victim, a relative or friend.
70% of mass shootings (4 or more injured or killed) occur in the home.
I lived my first seven years in small town Minnesota. My step-father served in Paris in WWII. He brought home a German Luger pistol. He placed it in an unlocked high kitchen cabinet. One day I went out to play with my friends and decided to take the gun and show it to them. I climbed up on the counter and took the gun. I showed it to my friends with each of us taking turns pointing it at each other and pulling the trigger. Doing the kid thing! Thankfully, the gun was not loaded. We escaped tragedy.
A legislator who votes against every substantial GVP bill, told a story about living through a rough patch in his life. He is a gun owner. He wisely took his gun(s) and gave them to his friend out of concern for his personal safety. He is alive today.
A friend was an avid gun and bow hunter and a taxidermist. He also suffered from Lymes disease. Suffering for many years, one day the pain got so excruciating that he took his hand gun and committed suicide.
DO I HAVE ANY STORIES?
POSSIBLE ACTIONS : Consider the above statistics and stories and review the In-Home Safety Practices in SESSION 2.
If you have children who have lockdown drills, ask how they feel. Encourage them to talk about their fears, comfort them and assure
them that adults in their lives are there to protect them. Remind them that statistically, it is VERY unlikely that their school will ever have this situation. It is just a precaution, like putting on your seatbelt or knowing what to do if a fire happens at home.
Political action is acting for the common good, including
ourselves and the other.
What Actions Could I Take?
STRONGLY ADVOCATE FOR THE FOLLOWING
EVIDENCE-BASED LAWS IN MINNESOTA THAT HAVE
BEEN EFFECTIVE IN OTHER STATES
Criminal Background Check Bill
This bill will prevent prohibited purchasers from buying guns illegally.
Federal law does not require unlicensed sellers to perform background checks. This makes it easy for prohibited purchasers to buy guns illegally, including criminals, gang members and domestic abusers.
Red Flag Bill (Extreme Risk Protective Order-ERP0)
When a person is in crisis, loved ones and law enforcement are often the first to see warning signs or “red flags.” The RFL will empower law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove a gun from a high-risk situation. The RFL provides due process through the
court, and firearms can be returned to the individual when the
risk has passed.
NOTE: For a complete description of these bills, go to: www.protect.mn.org/Resources/2019 Legislative Session
These bills have passed the House and are awaiting
TWO ADDITIONAL GUN VIOLENCE LAWS HAVE
BEEN IMPLEMENTED IN OTHER STATES
EXAMPLE: In Massachusetts, gun purchases involve a background check, attending and passing a gun safety course, and applying for a permit to purchase through another official party.
PERMIT-TO-PURCHASE: (Also known as Handgun Purchaser Licensing or PTP). These laws create a robust system to screen out prohibited individuals (whether it be for severe mental illness or criminal history) and hold gun sellers accountable by only allowing them to sell to someone with a valid license.
CHILD ACCESS PREVENTION (CAP): These laws require gun owners to store their guns in a manner that prevents unauthorized or unsupervised access to firearms by youth or adolescents under a certain age. More than 40% of fatal suicides by those age 17 or younger are committed with a firearm. Restricting access to the most lethal means among a high-risk group is an important step to prevent youth suicide. States with CAP laws have rates of youth firearm suicide that are 8% lower than states without these laws.
CANDLE POWER: What actions do I plan to initiate? What have I learned about GVP?
PRAYER: O Christ of love, you have called us to be your expressions of love in GVP. Continue to guide and provide what we need to protect the lives you have given us to embrace. Amen
SONG: “Love, Love, Love” by Herb Brokering
Love, love, love.
That’s what it’s all about.
God loves us we love each other.
Mother, father, sister, brother.
Everybody sing and shout!
Cause that’s what it’s all about!
It’s about love, love, love.
It’s about love, love, love.
Take Home Guide
Our purpose is to take action.
PRAYER: O Jesus, you have come to love us, forgive us, enlighten us and empower us to be your hands of love. Grace and guide us to take action for GVP. Amen
Review the In-Home PERSONAL Safety Actions in SESSION 2 and take appropriate steps to make your home more gun safe.
Take POLITICAL Action by contacting your elected leaders by writing letters, sending emails, phone calling. For addresses and numbers:
Minnesota House: www.house.leg.state.mn.us
Minnesota Senate: www.senate.mn
HOW TO COMMUNICATE YOUR POSITION
In Minnesota, MANNERS MATTER. Minnesotans do not respond well to snark or sarcasm, and have very long memories. If we speak impolitely about or mischaracterize those who disagree with us, it will absolutely turn off the majority of Minnesotans who do agree with us, but might not know it yet. Further, it will give the gun lobby a reason to denounce us. ( FROM: Protect Minnesota)
ALSO, do not say “Gun nuts”, or “Our lawmakers are slaves of the gun lobby with blood on their hands”, or “Let’s repeal the Second Amendment.” (Protect Minnesota) Instead be:
Be calm and respectful
If you call, state your message in one minute
Cite a few facts
If you write, try to keep your comments to a paragraph
Express your faith conviction
Note names and Numbers of bills
Include your name, address, phone and email
An adage from Africa: When you pray, move your feet!
The point is: Pray and Act
Take the time now to write a letter, send an email, text, tweet or phone your elected official.
Plan to visit your officials.
PRAYER: As you have loved us, O gracious God, help us persist in loving others to create world safer from gun violence. Amen
SONG: “Lord of All Hopefulness” ELW 765
A Voice in Ramah
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled,
because they are no more.”
Will we hear the voices of the grieving? Will we hear the moans of the wounded? Will we feel the anger of friends, relatives and a public demanding change? Will we shake the gates of the powers and shout “Enough!”? Will we sing “How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died?” Will we chime with MLK, Jr. “We must put an end to violence or violence will put an end to us!”? Will we echo Dietrich Bonhoeffer at Christmastime in 1942, a few months before his arrest by the Nazis,
“We will not and must not reach to the events of history with barren criticism or barren opportunism, but must take our share of responsibility for the moulding of history . . . . The ultimate question for a responsible person to ask is . . . how the coming generation is to live.”
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
We Would Like to Hear your Comments
Was LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR helpful in your GVP conversation?
What was most helpful?
What was least helpful?
Is there anything you would suggest including in a revised study?
SEND TO: email@example.com
Leona is retired from a business career in accounting, finance, business systems support and documentation. She currently leads a small group Bible study in her church and identifies relevant curriculum for that group. She grew up on a farm in western
Minnesota and has many family members who are avid hunters. Gun safety and gun violence prevention are of particular concern for her, both from that farm and sportsman background and from concerns raised as the culture changes and media coverage of gun violence increases. She supports gun violence prevention advocacy in our lawmaking endeavors and also supports faith study that gives hope and encourages people to take action, individually and together as part of their faith community.
Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes
Ron graduated from Concordia College-Moorhead, Minnesota with a B.A. degree in history-political science. He graduated with an M.Div. from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He earned a D.Min. from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. His ministry calls were to Aurora, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; as executive director of Sketek Lutheran Camp near Marshall, Minnesota and Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp west of Ft. Collins, Colorado. He served interims at Lasalle, Colorado; Cloquet, Minnesota and Windom, Minnesota. Ron served as Chair of the Southern Wisconsin Church in Society Committee, the SW Minnesota Racism-Sexism Task Force, and is presently Chair of the St. Paul Area Synod-ENGAGE Public Witness Work Group addressing gun violence prevention. He has served on the Protect Minnesota Board of Directors for six years.