Taking note of gun violence

With breaking hearts we watch and read about another school shooting. We ask ourselves how does this keep happening? We wonder when will change in our country happen and by whom? We look to elected leaders, to each other, to the Internet, to the National Rifle Association and to God, and plead for no more bodies.

I suspect most of you have seen enough statistics about guns, gun ownership, gun deaths, and money spent by gun lobbyists to the point that you don’t even look any more as soon as you see another number pop up.

The issue with guns in our country is not an issue about numbers, it’s an issue about extremists having too much influence over money and power brokers, i.e.: politicians. It’s also about our American culture of western romance with individualism and freedom. Numbers are indicators, or clues, about the level of influence by extremists, and they’re a wake-up call to the cost of a way of life that does not work for our country any more.

The extreme gun owners, manufacturers, and lobby groups (not the moderates who believe in reasonable gun laws), want to keep the public conversation as strictly political. They want to frame the issues as only about gun rights, and base it upon a paranoid narrative of defense against the enemy. And it’s worth a few bodies in order to preserve those individual rights. In January I heard these very words from a Virginia House Delegate, Nicholas J. Freitas, who is running for U.S. Senate. I wonder if Mr. Freitas has ever had to say, to the parents of a child killed by a gun, that at least they have their freedom.

One thing has been clear over the past few years. As the public voice has been growing, demanding our elected officials change our gun laws, not in small steps meant to quell the masses into submission, but in significant and influential ways, an important voice has been missing. The voice of the big churches has been absent.

Where are the Evangelicals? Where are the Catholics? Where are the Southern Baptists, the Episcopalians, the Methodists, Reformed Jews, Orthodox, Muslims and on, and on.

I am not talking about individual churches, synagogues or mosques. I’m talking about the heads of the national associations. They have money and lobbyists too.

Here’s an idea from Mehdi Hasan, a British columnist and author who lives in D.C.: All American Muslims, estimated between three and seven million, should join the NRA and take it over. And, he suspects, the Paul Ryans’ of the U.S. Congress would kick in pretty fast with some gun control measures.

If you have family members who attend another denomination, please ask them where their denomination or assembly stands on ending the gun violence in our country. What have their church leaders said and what are they doing? Do they bear the voice of reason, as most U.S. citizens do, and recognize a need for taking back our country from extremists and changing our culture?

In case you’re wondering, here is what the Unitarian Universalist Association has said by vote of our members:

1972: https://www.uua.org/action/statements/gun-control-0

1991: https://www.uua.org/action/statements/gun-control

2016: https://www.uua.org/action/statements/some-guns-all-guns-legislating-appropriate-restrictions

For a more detailed look at what we are saying, teaching and advocating: https://www.uua.org/liberty/guns

With love and perseverance, Rev. Kate Walker