Does Inciting a “Wave of Fear” Sound Like a Christian Response?

I could cite (and have cited) statistics about why I support common sense gun reforms, such as banning of high-capacity magazines and so-called “assault” weapons, and closing all loopholes that make it possible for those prohibited by law from gun ownership to easily obtain guns. Statistics about how much more likely gun violence, including suicide, is in homes where there are guns. About the percentage of Americans of all political persuasions who support universal background checks (somewhere around 80 to 90 percent). About how many thousands of people have died from gun violence since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre last December (estimate: more than 24,000).

Yes, I support the passage of basic legislation to promote gun safety and stem the bloody tide of gun-related violence because of facts about both gun violence and what most Americans want, as opposed to what a vocal minority wants—a minority largely made up of so-called “constitutionalists” who are convinced first, that we would be safer if more people owned guns and second, that any limits on private gun ownership violate the 2nd Amendment. As Matt Bennett wrote in an extensive article about the history of the gun debate and the aftermath of Sandy Hook,

Though a distinct minority, this group [the constitutionalists] has come to control the terms of the gun debate, exercising a power that vastly exceeds their numbers. Their principle mechanism for wielding this power is, of course, the NRA.

But behind the statistics is another, more important reason that I support gun law reforms. That reason is Jesus Christ.

Jesus told us that the “meek” and the “peacemakers” (not the confidently well-armed) will inherit the earth.

Jesus turned on its head the Old Testament ideal of violent retaliation, “an eye for an eye” (which is, let’s face it, also a very human ideal, in that most of us nurture revenge fantasies regularly, even if not of a violent nature). Jesus said instead that we ought to make friends with our enemies and turn the other cheek.

Jesus rebuked one of his best friends who, understandably enough, drew a sword when soldiers came to take Jesus to his execution.

Jesus told his friends that two swords would be plenty for a dozen people as they went out to preach the Gospel. His advice if any town rejected them? Turn around and walk away.

Jesus “calls us to a life of risk-taking and vulnerability, of sharing ourselves and letting down our defenses, so that healing may occur.” (Quote from a beautiful reflection by Bromleigh McCleneghan on how school employee Antoinette Tuff thwarted a potential shooting by talking to a heavily armed man, by treating him as a human being, not by meeting his firepower with her own.)

Jesus continually rejected the role his friends wanted and expected him to fulfill—the head of a conquering army that would forcibly drive the Romans out of Israel—to instead heal and feed and remind his people to whom they belong.

Jesus said, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us.” (John 4:17-19).

There is no fear in love. No fear.

Last week, two Colorado state senators were driven from office in a recall vote because they voted for a ban on high-capacity magazines and to expand background checks on gun owners. The recall effort was supported and funded by the NRA. Why? Why spend all that time and money recalling two state senators, especially when the Colorado state senate is still narrowly controlled by Democrats and the gun reforms still stand?

According to an NRA spokesman, the reason they supported the two senators’ recall was to incite “a wave of fear” among other legislators, to send the message that anyone who dares support common sense gun laws will possibly lose their jobs.

Does that sound like peacemaking to you?

There is no fear in love.

Jesus Christ is the reason I support gun law reforms and why I continue to say, month after month after month, that #ItIsEnough.

On the 14th of every month, I post something on social media (my blog and/or Twitter account) pledging support of gun law reform. I do this as co-founder of the #ItIsEnough Coalition, an informal group of Christians who use social media to voice support for common sense gun legislation. I do not allow comments on my monthly #ItIsEnough posts because I am not interested in debating the issue on this blog, only rallying more like-minded Christians to our cause. If you want to join our effort, read more about #ItIsEnough here.

(When I published my August #ItIsEnough post, I got an email from someone chiding me for not allowing comments, saying that if I really care about this issue and want legitimacy, I need to hear the other side. As I told that correspondent, anyone can go through my blog archives and find several posts on which I allowed open discussion of gun law reform. I know the arguments of the other side. I have held lengthy, and largely fruitless, conversations with those on the other side. I don’t see any benefit from hosting a monthly argument with people who want to convince me that Jesus is the true author of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment and that we’d be safer if my children’s teachers all packed heat. Jesus Christ’s commitment to nonviolence and take-down of the prevailing cultural notions of “might makes right” and redemptive violence are clear. As are the facts about the carnage that results when a nation fails to put reasonable limits on gun ownership and allows a small but vocal minority of voters to dictate the terms of the debate. If you want to argue the other side, start your own blog.)

 

About Ellen Painter Dollar

Ellen Painter Dollar is a writer focusing on faith, parenting, family, disability, and ethics. She is the author of No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Faith, and Parenthood in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Westminster John Knox, 2012). Visit her web site at http://ellenpainterdollar.com for more on her writing and speaking, and to sign up for a (very) occasional email newsletter.


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