[Note: This panelists submitted their responses over a month before the tragic murder of 19 fourth graders and two teachers. The murderer legally bought two AR15-style rifles for his 18th birthday. Perhaps legal gun ownership should begin at age 21. Perhaps it will turn out that adequate mental health care could have averted this tragedy. Perhaps deeper background checks, including looks at juvenile offenses, ought to be required before every sale of a weapon. If Russia invades the United States, we can put the 400,000,000 guns in this country to good use. Until then, the US will continue to lead the world in gun-related deaths unless we do more than hold memorial services for the dead. ~Rabbi Krishef]
Reverend Colleen Squires, minister at All Souls Community Church of West Michigana Unitarian Universalist Congregation, responds:
“Unitarian Universalists have spoken out against gun violence and advocate for tougher gun control laws for the past 50 years. We help federal and state lawmakers make it a crime for civilians to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, retrofit, or transfer a semi-automatic assault weapon or large-scale ammunition feeder. ability. We support the implementation of comprehensive and universal background checks. »
Reverend Ray Lanning, retired minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North Americarespond :
“It would be an amazing change in the scheme of things if the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church were charged with our nation and our Commonwealth. But if so, the heirs of the Scottish Covenanters are unlikely to intervene to deny the people’s right to own and bear arms. I would propose, however, that every citizen who wishes to exercise this right be required to learn both the mechanics and the ethics of gun ownership, and to learn to respect the chilling power that guns own and represent. I would also propose limiting, if not abolishing, the power of gun lobbies to influence the laws and policies of our government. And I would insist on full disclosure: who owns these weapons, and how do they count against the toll of crimes committed every day in our country? I am also inclined to have each gun butt inscribed with these words of warning: “As many as take the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).
Reverend Steven W. Manskar, a retired United Methodist ministerrespond :
“The first part of the Second Amendment would be as important as the second. Citizens would be allowed to own firearms. But with the possession of firearms would come enlistment in a “well-regulated militia”. A firearm owner would be required to participate in regular training on the proper use and storage of firearms. They would also be required to participate in training with their local police-led public safety protection militia unit.
Linda Knieriemen, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Hollandrespond :
“In his commentary on the commandment ‘kill not’, John Calvin wrote that ‘the safety of all is committed to each one’. He goes on to say that any violence and any type of harm suffered by the body of our neighbor is prohibited and that we must do everything possible to defend the life of our neighbor, favor what tends to his tranquility, ward off evil and when danger comes, help remove it.
“The governing body (General Assembly) of my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has since the 1960s supported gun control legislation, initially calling for “control of the sale and possession of firearms of any kind”. A later statement amended this statement, specifying the exclusion of shotguns and rifles used legitimately by sportsmen. More recent statements have called for the loophole to be closed. gun shows, requiring licensing, registration and waiting periods for all guns sold, prohibiting sales of assault and semi-assault weapons that do not have no reimbursable social purpose and in support of new technologies that provide law enforcement with greater tracer gun capability.
Fred Stella, the Pracharak (minister of outreach) of the West Michigan Hindu Templerespond :
“This is purely speculative as no country has a Hindu government. Nepal was a Hindu kingdom for centuries but switched to a democratic form of governance decades ago. I know that India, which is secular with a Hindu majority, makes it difficult to own guns. I haven’t heard of a movement going on to change that dynamic. Now, if I were in charge, I would tap into the wisdom of my faith to build common sense laws surrounding gun ownership. That would take into account hunting culture, urban violence, gun fetishists, firepower and many other elements sociological and behavioral based on volumes of peer-reviewed research.
The Torah warns us to build a parapet around our (flat) roofs lest someone fall and we become responsible for their injury or death (Deuteronomy 22:8). This verse became the foundation of the principle that we are responsible for safeguarding objects in our possession that are potentially dangerous. So on that basis, gun ownership would be unlimited for mentally stable adults, but if the gun wasn’t properly secured and was stolen and used in a crime or if a child gained access to the gun and misused it, the owner of the weapon would be liable. If a person was found to be mentally unstable and potentially dangerous to themselves or others, they would not be allowed to own a firearm. If a person threatened others with harm, their right to own a firearm could be revoked.
This column answers questions of ethics and religion by putting them to a multi-faith panel of spiritual leaders from the Grand Rapids area. We would love to hear about common ethical questions that arise in your day as well as religious questions you have. Tell us how you solved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].
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