A Conflicted Union
JESUS-LOVE-GUNS: A Conflicted Union, stirs conversation among the faithful. Jesus, the nonviolent Savior and Liberator; Jesus the love exemplar; Jesus, the teacher of Truth; Jesus, the One who never calls one to kill another human being; Jesus, who proclaims “Blessed are the peacemakers,” “Enough” and “No more of this” when speaking of weapons, is our Light as we address gun violence prevention (GVP) in Minnesota.
Jesus is the human expression of the grace of God freeing the faithful to take action to advance gun violence prevention (GVP). As we are set free by God’s loving grace, so we are set free and called to work for GVP.
The Church is the community of Christ. We gather in our diversity of person and politics, values and persuasions, ages and genders, abilities and talents, to bend our knees, sing the praises of God, love each other, and be reconciled to God and each other. We gather to learn and discuss, to be informed and empowered for discipleship. We are enlightened and called to witness beyond the walls into our homes, communities, schools, work places, and state.
In Jesus, through the Church, we are sent to save life, to create a culture of nonviolence in the midst of an all too often gun violent culture. The clash of these cultures creates a conflicted union. It is demanded of us to thread the needle of appropriate gun use and violent abuse of guns. Weapons that can offer recreation and joy, can also shed tears of grief, provide anger with a tool of sorrow, and unleash hatred to death. A conflicted union.
JESUS-LOVE-GUNS: A Conflicted Union, provides a way forward. We will consider Biblical texts, we will pray, we will sing, we will learn, we will discuss, and we will plan for action! Let us engage Jesus, each other and the reality of guns. Let us commit to gun violence prevention (GVP).
Review the PURPOSE of the GVP (gun violence prevention) conversations:
Ignite conversation and stir action for gun violence prevention (GVP) in all areas of life: in-home and legislature, church and community, business and play in the nonviolent love of Jesus Christ.
THEME VERSE: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your should, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37, 39)
INTRODUCTION OF EACH OTHER AND SHARING of personal gun stories. What experiences have I had with guns and what brings you here? (2 minutes each)
SHARE AND DISCUSS GVP statistics. (See: www.protectmn.org)
IN THE UNITED STATES
Every 6 minutes a shooting incident occurs.
A shooting death occurs every 14 minutes.
In 2017, there were 14,637 shooting deaths
and an estimated 24,000 gun suicides.
In 2017, 39,773 people lost their lives due to 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 high income countries (HIC).
Between 2001-2013, guns killed more people in the U.S. than AIDS, illegal drug overdose, wars and terrorism combined.
Assault weapons bans reduced the number of school shootings by 54.4%.
135% more people were shot and 57% more people killed in mass shootings when assault-type weapons or large capacity magazines were used.
Assault weapons were banned between 1994-2004. During the ban, mass shootings fell by 37% and the number of people dying from mass shootings declined by 43%.
After the ban was eliminated, the number of mass shootings increased by 183% and there was an increase of 239% in massacre deaths.
Police killed in the line of duty between 1 January and 31 October 2016 were slain with assault-type weapons.
Mental health issues account for only 4% of shootings.
More than 3 people are shot each day.
Between 2000-2017, gun deaths increased by 50% and nationally by 38%.
Youth and young adults between the ages of 17-25 make up the greatest % of gun deaths.
Last year, there were 358 car deaths, 401 opioid deaths and 465 gun deaths.
Last year, of the 465 gun deaths, 365 were suicides.
The average gun suicide victim is a white male who lives in a rural area.
79% of all gun deaths in Minnesota are suicides, with males accounting for 75% and females 6%.
What do these facts say to me?
What do these facts say about gun safety in our home, school and community?
Ask a student to share an active shooter drill experience.
How did they feel?
How do these drills make parents feel?
What do these drills say about our culture?
Some blame gun violence on mental health issues. If we could only make all people mentally well we wouldn’t have gun violence. Certainly, mental health is an issue.
But how about looking at guns as part of the solution?
“The person pulls the trigger, but the gun does the killing.”
What do you think?
BIBLICAL TEXT FOCUS:
Read the two Creation stories if time permits.
In Genesis 1-2, two Creation stories emphasize peace, harmony, nonviolence and Shalom.
What could this mean for GVP?
What is God’s will for Creation? For people?
Read Chapters 3-4 if time permits.
In Genesis 3-4, we read stories of the Fall of humankind, with Adam and Eve disobeying God and eating forbidden fruit and Cain murdering Abel.
Can we say that violence happened NOT because of God’s will but because of personal/human choice?
What are implications for GVP?
If CHOICE is the problem, can CHOICE also be part of the solution for GVP?
Discuss the Ten Commandments, especially the Fifth Commandment (You shall not kill/murder). Is there a difference between killing and murder?What are implications for GVP?
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 any more.”)
What is the will of God for weapons?
Is there a difference between personal and political weapon use?
Ask and discuss: What is the will of God for personal relationships?
Is it the will of God that we kill each other?
Ought there be limitations on weapon use?
What are implications for GVP?
ACTION CANDLE: (Passing of candle) Each person respond to the question: what insights have I gained?
Song: “Healer of our Every Ill” ELW-612
SHARING ON CHURCH 1
What do I remember? What made an impression on me?
MEDIA IMPRESS: What movie, video game or song spoke to me about gun violence?
What did I learn?
How did it make me feel?
What were the causes of violence?
ART IMPRESS: Using your iPhone or iPad, pull up Picasso’s “Guernica” portrait. Picasso painted the portrait as an anti-war expression in opposition to the German bombing of the Spanish town of Guernica and the Spanish Civil War. Although the portrait focuses on bombing, the context is the Spanish civil war which included common guns
Pass around the picture and ask for responses.
What does it say to you about gun violence?
What kind of emotions do you feel?
Are there appropriate uses for guns (weapons)?
“When Isacc was old and his eyes were dim . . . he called his elder son Esau and said to him, . . . . Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. then prepare for me savory food . . . .” (Genesis 27: 1, 3)
“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)
What are inappropriate uses?
Is gun (weapon) usage ever justified?
BIBLICAL TEXT FOCUS: Remembering “You shall not murder” and “You shall not kill”
Remembering that God created the Garden of Eden as a place of nonviolence, peace and harmony.
Remembering the “Fall” and human/personal choice as the major factor for violence.
Remembering that Isaiah wrote that “He (God) shall turn swords into plow shares”?
What is the difference between killing and murder?
What is God’s will for gun usage?
Ought there be limits to the use of weapons? Guns?
What are implications for GVP?
CANDLE ACTION: (Passing around the candle), What insights did I learn?
SONG: “Kumbaya” Someone’s crying (praying, singing), Lord.
SHARING of home session and addressing questions.
BIBLICAL TEXT FOCUS: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers….”,
When sending his disciples out he scolded his disciples for thinking they needed to carry weapons with them and said “Enough!”
After one of those who were around him cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave, Jesus said, “No more of this!”
What are the implications of these verses for GVP?
What would Jesus say about GVP?
Who do I know is a peacemaker? Why?
When have I stopped or prevented violence?
EXPRESSION: Do circle body pass. Share impressions.
Form a circle of six people, shoulder to shoulder. One person stands in the center, folds arms, closes eyes and falls backward, trusting the circle hands to hold them and gently pass them around.
The lesson is GENTLE, NONVIOLENT TRUST. After all have been circled, talk about how you felt.
Imagine the circle body pass with everyone having a gun in one hand.
Is there a different feeling?
Which enhances trust and togetherness? Is there a difference in type of trust and togetherness?
How can the presence of a gun affect our relationships?
Do guns raise the the fear level?
Do guns create mistrust?
CONVERSATION on Declaration of Independence phrase:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
What could be implications for GVP?
CONVERSATION on the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: “We the people of the 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….”
Is there a difference between “providing for the common defense” and citizens having the right to own personal weapons?
What could be implications for GVP?
Is there a relationship between being a good citizen and GVP?
CONVERSATION on the Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Background: There were many reasons for the Second Amendment: 1) The United States had a minimal standing army, having just won the Revolutionary War; 2) The states were concerned about a tyrannical federal government, so having a state militia was a protection; 3) The United States was a largely frontier nation and protections were felt necessary; 4) Southern states wanted protection from slave rebellions;
5) Native Americans posed a threat and needed to be controlled and conquered; 6) Local policing was in its infancy and a militia provided security.
NOTE: Too frequently the first part of the amendment, relating to the “well regulated militia” is left out of the conversation about gun rights. The NRA omitted the first part of the amendment near the front door of its former national headquarters. In a speech before the NRA, President Reagan omitted the first 13 words and stressed the last section about the “right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.”
TO THE CONTRARY, “When the U.S. 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).”
Hemenway also quoted a study by Rakove, “But to all it was clear that the militia was to be used to help defeat insurrections.”
In UNITED STATES v. MILLER (1939), the Supreme Court argued unanimously that the purpose of the Second Amendment was “to insure the viability of state militias.” The focus was on militias and not individual rights.
Source: 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, I repeat the word ‘fraud’ on the American people by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime.’”
Guns Down by Igor Volsky
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 said this right is not an absolute right, and a wide range of gun control laws remain “presumptively lawful.” These include laws that: 1) prohibit carrying concealed weapons; 2) prohibit gun 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. (cga.ct.gov)
In light of Jesus’ comments on weapons, does the Second Amendment collide with our faith and Christian witness?
What are implications for GVP?
CANDLE ACTION: What insights have I gained?
SONG: “O God of Every Nation” ELW 713
SHARING on CHURCH 2
BIBLICAL TEXT FOCUS: Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5:1-16
Is this text a foundation for nonviolence?
How could this text relate to GVP?
READ: Story about Daniel Berrigan:
“Daniel Berrigan lectured on nonviolence and the Sermon on the Mount, someone accused him of being naive and said, ‘Father, no one can live the way you outlined. Do you know what will happen if you try? Do you know where your advice will lead someone?’ Father Berrigan responded, ‘Yes, I know where it leads. Before you start down this path you better make sure you look good on wood.’”
“We must put an end to violence or violence will put an end to us.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We must tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”
Aeschylus (Greek dramatist – often called the father of tragedy)
Quoted by Senator Robert Kennedy when he announced to a stunned crowd in Indianapolis, Indiana that MLK, Jr. had been assassinated.
What could this mean for GVP?
When it comes to guns, what does it mean to follow Jesus?
What positions could I take to further GVP?
REFLECT: Jesus suffered violence rather than inflict violence on others?
True or not true?
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, as 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.
CANDLE ACTION: what can I do this week to advance GVP?
SONG: “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” ELW 815
SHARING on HOME 2 (one minute each)
BIBLICAL TEXT FOCUS: The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 5:19-22:
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: (selected) ‘idolatry, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions and envy. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.’”
What are the implications of these verses for GVP?
How do the works of the flesh cause gun violence?
What are some works of the flesh?
What does it mean that the FRUITS are nonviolent?
What is it to be Christian and advance GVP?
The prophet AMOS writes: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Justice and righteousness are about the COMMON GOOD.
The COMMON GOOD is about our own family and those in our neighborhood, places of work, church, state and nation.
The COMMON GOOD includes ourselves AND others.
DIETRICH BONHOEFFER said: “We will not and must not reach to the events of history with barren criticism or barren optimism, but must take our share of responsibility for the moulding of history. . . . the ultimate question for a responsible person is too ask is . . . how the coming generation is to live.” (Christmastime in 1942)
What is it to be responsible for GVP?
What can we do to make for a safer GVP future?
Responsibility includes PERSONAL and POLITICAL actions.
What do you think?
I lived my first seven years in small town Climax, Minnesota. My step-father served in WW II and brought home a German Luger pistol. He placed it high above the kitchen counter in an unlocked cubby. One day I went out to play with my friends. I climbed up on the counter and took down the pistol to show to my friends. Together, we passed the gun around, pointing it and pulling the trigger. Thankfully and fortunately, the gun was not loaded.
A LEGISLATOR’S STORY
He is a Republican. He owns guns and opposes gun laws that would prevent a person from owning and purchasing a weapon. There was a time in his life when he was going through a rough personal patch. He chose to remove his guns from his house for fear he might do himself harm.
STORY OF A FRIEND
He was an avid hunter. He was a taxidermist. He was humorous. He was a leader in the church. He contracted Lyme Disease. Suffering with it for many years, one day he fell to the floor in agony. He made it to his wife’s and his bed. He pulled out a handgun from the nightstand and shot himself.
What do you hear in these stories?
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 were stored in the home of the victim, a relative or a friend.
70% of mass shootings (four or more people are killed or injured) occur in the home.
57% of the victims are partners or family members.
42% are current or former intimate partners.
PRACTICAL HOME ACTIONS:
(From: WebMD, CBS Chicago, NRA, Kids’ Health and Childsafe)
Install gun locks or cable loops on all guns
Store guns in steel locking case or safe
Make sure guns are unloaded
Store ammunition in a separate locked safe separate from guns
Take a gun safety course
Store keys to gun/ammunition safes in a hidden location
Lock-up cleaning supplies which are often poisonous
Never leave a gun unattended
Parents, inquire about guns in your children’s homes friends
CHILDREN, 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 and your parents.
PRACTICAL POLITICAL (COMMON GOOD) ACTIONS:
Inform yourself about common sense gun laws that need to be passed by your legislature.
Always stress that these laws are about keeping guns out of the hands of irresponsible people and NOT about taking guns away from responsible gun owners. Most gun owners are responsible.
Stress the importance of gun safety and gun violence prevention and NOT about confiscating all guns.
Write letters to your senator or representative and urge them to support these laws.
Make a personal visit to your elected representatives and urge their support for gun laws.
Call your senator and representative and urge them to support passage of the common sense laws.
Attend rallies sponsored by Protect Minnesota, Mom’s Demand Action, Every Town and ENGAGE in support of the common sense gun laws.
Write letters to the editor in support of GVP.
Attend Town Halls where you can speak directly to elected officials.
Join the Protect Minnesota network (www.protectmn.org) and ENGAGE Action Team (www.engageelca.org)
SONG: “We Are Called” ELW 720
SHARING on CHURCH 3
BIBLICAL TEXT FOCUS: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might, and your neighbor as yourself.”
What can I do to promote GVP?
SUPPORT GVP BILLS BEFORE THE MINNESOTA LEGISLATURE
Go to: www.protectmn.org/Resources/Legislative Session
for a clear description of important bills to be passed for GVP action.
The two most focused bills are:
Universal Background Checks
Red Flag (Extreme Risk Protection Order)
Write a letter to your elected officials.
SEE: www.protectmn.org for names and addresses of elected officials to contact.
Commit to making phone calls. Talk about what you would say.
SEE www.protectmn.org/Resources for talking points, phone and email information
- Be calm and respectful
- Use considerate language
- Cite a few facts
- Express your faith conviction (Most officials have a faith)
- Express what you want them to support and why
- In a phone call, speak your request with the above points in one minute
- When writing, make your points in one or two paragraphs and not more than one page. Include your name, address, phone and email.
TASK: Write your one minute statement on GVP you would give to an elected official.
REVIEW GUN SAFETY IN YOUR HOME
Are your guns locked in a safe or metal cabinet?
Do the guns have safety trigger locks?
Are the guns unloaded?
Is ammunition locked in a separate safe or cabinet?
Are the keys hidden?
Do you need to remove guns temporarily due to a time of high stress?
Join and participate with a GVP group such as Protect Minnesota (www.protectmn.org), Mom’s Demand Action (www.momsdemandaction.org), Giffords (www.giffords.org), and ENGAGE (www.engageelca.org)
ATTEND RALLIES AND PUBLIC EVENTS
See: www.protectmn.org for scheduled events
CANDLE ACTION: What will I do now for GVP?
SONG: “Love, Peace, Joy” by Herbert 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.
BENEDICTION: Let us love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might. And let us love our neighbors as ourselves.