UPDATED: Faith groups push on gun control

(President Obama has since unveiled his gun-control proposals, via The Washington Post)

The Washington Post focuses on the role of faith groups concerning gun control, in anticipation for President Obama’s expected Wednesday announcement:

Dozens of prominent faith leaders launched a push Tuesday for gun control, using the post-Newtown climate to argue there is a spiritual imperative for action on gun violence.

Jim Wallis, founder of the evangelical movement Sojourners, challenged the NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s argument that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Wallis, who was among 25 clergy at a Tuesday news conference, called LaPierre’s view “morally mistaken, theologically dangerous and religiously repugnant. The world is not full of good and bad people, that’s not what the scripture teaches. We all have bad and good in us.”

Progressive clergy have long preached for tighter gun measures but since the mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school, their demands are getting much more specific and the clergy involved are coming from a broader base.

Monday night, a few dozen national clergy who serve now or have as official advisors to President Obama issued a statement calling for “reasonable steps” such as the enforcement of universal background checks for people buying guns and the “collection and publication of relevant” data on gun violence.

Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a diverse coalition of more than 40 denominations and faith-based organizations, has written a letter to Congress that identifies three top priorities for federal lawmakers that include requiring who buys a gun to pass a criminal background check; removing high capacity guns and ammunition magazines from the streets; and making gun trafficking a federal crime.

Back on December 20th, Episcopal Cafe focused on what church leaders were doing in mobilizing against gun violence. Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde’s Christmas letter was featured in that post.

Details are starting to emerge on President Obama expected proposal on gun control. CNN is reporting that it “will include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

Yesterday, legislation was signed by New York Governor Cuomo called the “NY SAFE ACT”.

This gives “New York State the most comprehensive gun laws in the nation”.

The governor’s website states:

New York will be the first state in the nation to:

* Completely ban all pre-1994 high capacity magazines

* Ban any magazine that can hold over 7 rounds (down from a limit of 10)

* Conduct real time background checks of ammunition purchases in

order to alert law enforcement of high volume buyers

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Category : The Lead

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  1. John B. Chilton

    There’s one thing about the NY act that wasn’t thought through and you’ve not listed: “The most significant new proposal would require mental health professionals to report to local mental health officials when they believe that patients are likely to harm themselves or others. Law enforcement would then be authorized to confiscate any firearm owned by a dangerous patient; therapists would not be sanctioned for a failure to report such patients if they acted “in good faith.””

    But that would discourage people from expressing suicidal thoughts. Suicide is the major form of death by guns.


    Dr. Paul S. Appelbaum, the director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, who said the Legislature should hold hearings on possible consequences of the proposal. “The prospect of being reported to the local authorities, even if they do not have weapons, may be enough to discourage patients with suicidal or homicidal thoughts from seeking treatment or from being honest about their impulses”.

  2. John B. Chilton

    Recall that when Bill Clinton took on gun control in 1993 he had the majority of Americans with him. But his party subsequently lost the midterms. Not all due to gun control, but my point is to remind us the right has a small number of issues about its voters are passionate, and the left’s passions are more diffuse.

  3. Ann Fontaine

    I am not sure the left is so much diffuse as seeing more than one side which makes it seem diffuse. For instance – we have guns and I think that it is okay to own guns. But I can see that access to more than single shot rifles and pistols leads to the ability to do mass murder. Same with abortion – not much for it but there are so many instances where it is the best choice – so safe and legal is my position and leaving it up to the woman’s judgement. But that does not show hard edged passion for the media. It is only when we come to abolishing choice that I am clear and will speak out. Most all issues are like this for me and I think many on the “left.” On the one hand and on the other sort of thoughts.

  4. tgflux

    Excellent point, Ann.

    Some of my secular LGBT associates want (demand) us pro-LGBT people-of-faith be just as EXTREME (even violently extreme!) as are anti-gay religionists.

    But we (e.g. Episcopalians) don’t get violently extreme. We don’t see that way as being “of Christ”. It’s a sticky wicket.

    JC Fisher

    [On topic: THANK YOU, MR PRESIDENT! For your moral clarity, and sanity.]

  5. We, too, own guns, though they are not objects of obssession for us, to say the least. My general feeling is that if you need a gun to feel safe, you will never feel safe. It is also seems odd that the more guns one owns, the less safe one seems to feel– indeed, the more one seems to distrust those around him or her. I am glad that our president has finally decided to take a stand on this issue, and mourn the number of innocent lives it took for that to happen. There needs to be a way to report those we think might hurt others in the same way one can report elderly drivers that we fear may no longer be able to drive. New York has the right idea. I live in a state that will never tolerate those kinds of common-sense solutions.

  6. Stephen Miller

    I feel more people now understand how far down the path of an uncivil society we have come. I knew, because we have lost two people in our family to gun violence one by the same assault style rifle that was used in Sandy Brook. This has to be the gun control equivalent to MADD and tobacco awareness. These are dangerous mostly unregulated products that have one purpose, to kill many people quickly. Over the years I have felt alone as the level of violence in our cities has gone unaddressed by our leaders. I feel bad about our brothers and sisters in the inner city as they experience a Sandy Brook every day one child at a time. It has angered me that it has not been enough. But this latest incident should bring together people in cities, suburbs and rural area as it effects us all. None of us is immune from what I feel is the civil rights issue of our time, because it is “the least of these” that suffer most.

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