Three religious leaders frame gun control debate as NRA v. common good

In the wake of what the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is now reporting was a hate crime carried out by a white supremacist against members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, some religious leaders have renewed their pleas for tougher gun control laws. In a column written for the Huffington Post in the wake of the previous mass killings in Aurora, Colorado, the Rev. Peter Laarman, Imam Jihad Turk and Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater framed the argument in terms of justice. They wrote:

In a thoughtful Los Angeles Times op-ed published earlier this month, Michael Kinsley asked readers to consider which of the injustices we accept today will seem utterly and unthinkably outrageous to people living 20 years from now.

We are convinced that today’s too-easy access to lethal weapons will be seen by future generations as one such outrageous injustice. This is because the absence of meaningful gun control in our time so clearly reflects the arrogant and disproportionate power of just one group — the gun lobby — riding roughshod over everyone else’s right to a modicum of public safety.

The Aurora shootings were big news, understandably, but we should never forget that each new day brings an average of 80 gun deaths in the United States, most of these occurring in poor communities. Eight of those killed each day are children. If there were any other public health crisis that killed eight children a day we would most likely mobilize as a nation to stop it. Yet in the face of this daily pile-up of corpses (not to mention a vastly greater number of woundings and maimings) most Americans have grown resigned to suffering under the boot of the NRA. It doesn’t have to be that way. Unjust power, especially unjust power with so much blood on its hands, can be challenged and overcome by a sufficiently outraged public. After all, it was an outraged public that finally curbed Big Tobacco’s power and that put a big dent into drunk driving through years of concentrated effort. The gun lobby will say it has the Constitution on its side; so did slaveholders and defenders of Jim Crow in eras past. The public, far more than any given Supreme Court, ultimately decides what the Constitution means.

Have the three religious leaders framed the issue properly? Do faith communities have a role to play in reducing gun violence, and if so, what is it?

(And if you are looking for an engaging Sikh blogger who has written some good items in the wake of the shooting, look in on Urban Turban Guy).

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