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Gun Control, The NRA & Compassion

April 30, 2018
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By Rev. Holly G. Bandel

This week, the NRA Convention will be in Dallas. There are those who are glad, those who are angry, and many who are indifferent. In the weeks since the mass shooting in a high school in Parkland, Florida, much has been said and done to stake positions on gun rights. But, what are we in the faith community to say about these things?

The Apostle Paul asks this question in Romans 8 as he is discussing the law and sin. For Paul, it is not that the faith law is bad or that we are bad as human beings, but rather that it is our deep humanness and propensity to act in sinful ways that keeps us from experiencing love of God and actively loving our neighbor.

What if we were to look at ourselves in this moment with the propensity to love God and neighbor even as our country and communities struggle?  Some are fighting just to fight out of hate of the other and polarization that many believe is the only way to take a stand. I believe there is a different way. What if prayer, non-violence and compassion for those we disagree with were to rule our thoughts and actions?

The United Methodist Church produces a Book of Resolutions every 4 years from the General Conference which has representative leadership across our global church. Though these resolutions are non-binding to individuals within the church for membership and ordination, I believe there is collective wisdom, courage and faith expressed in them. The paragraphs on “gun violence prevention” include advocating for these measures:

  • Universal background checks on all gun purchases
  • Ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty
  • Ensuring all guns are sold through licensed gun retailers
  • Prohibiting all individuals convicted of violent crimes from purchasing a gun for a fixed time period
  • Prohibiting all individuals under restraining order due to threat of violence from purchasing a gun
  • Prohibiting persons with serious mental illness, who pose a danger to themselves and their communities, from purchasing a gun
  • Ensuring greater access to services for those suffering from mental illness
  • Establishing a minimum age of 21 years for a gun purchase or possession
  • Banning large-capacity ammunition magazines and weapons designed to fire multiple rounds each time the trigger is pulled
  • Promoting new technologies to aid law-enforcement agencies to trace crime guns and promote public safety.

Click here to view the entire resolution.

So, what are we to say about these things? “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, ore persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril, or sword?” No, in all these things, we are convinced, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, not things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, not anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”    Romans 8:35-39

I invite you to pray with me as we live and love together as neighbors in our community. Our time to pray collectively will be 12 noon to 1 pm on Saturday. I will be present at the Dallas City Hall Plaza at this time to pray with whomever would choose to be present or pray where you are located. To sign up for the Faith Forward prayer vigil or to support with items, click here. 

 

 

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