The recent shooting in Orlando makes this column even more relevant. How can anyone get an assault weapon that fires more than 50 rounds into an innocent, unarmed crowd? What will it take to generate action? Where is the voice of the Christian community on this issue?
The popular slogan puts it pungently: “teachers stand up to gunmen but Congress won’t stand up to the N.R.A.” Why, with elections looming in Nov., can’t the Christian clamor for arms control be so deafening no Congress can keep ignoring it? According to a 2012 Public Religion Research Institute poll, among U.S. religious groups, Catholics are the most likely to support gun control. More than 6 in 10 of Catholics — 62 percent — favor stricter firearms laws.
According to John Gehring at Faith in Public Life, “Pro-life Christians who are a major political force in this country should be leading this movement. If the sanctity of human life in the womb galvanizes evangelical Christians and Catholics to march on Washington, create sophisticated lobbying campaigns and hold members of Congress accountable, there is no excuse for pro-life timidity on this issue.”
The genius of the mystical body is to admit that no one part has all the answers, and look to those who have solved similar problems creatively. For instance, a killer in Scotland murdered 16 children and their teacher in 1995. Within two years, legislation created a total ban on the private ownership of handguns in the United Kingdom. In short, no one can own a handgun or a semiautomatic weapon. This law, a sane response to shame and grief, has more backbone than simply offering condolences and prayer.
Similarly, France prohibits semi-automatic weapons and handguns except for a few narrow exceptions. There, less than ten per cent of all homicides come from firearms, compared to sixty per cent in the United States.
According to the Coalition for Gun Control, the U.S. death rate by firearms, including homicides, suicides and accidents was 10.2 per 100,000 people in 2009. Compare that to Canada: 2.5 per 100,000 people, France, 1.1 per 100,000 or the U.K: 0.25 per 100,000. U.S. residents aren’t inherently more violent; they simply have an unrestricted access to deadly weapons that astonishes citizens of other countries.
To be continued…