The Episcopal Church of Michigan is slightly left of center. OK, they’re so far left they might as well be right. Only in this case they’re wrong. As regular readers know, anyone who starts a sentence, “We support the U.S. Constitution’s protections of the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms but . . .” is working to degrade and destroy Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Which is a bad thing, not a good thing. In this case, Resolution 7 of The Report on the Committee on Reference at the 180th Convention of the Diocese of Michigan finishes the sentence by asserting “we also stand for public policies to ban gun violence and assault weapons. Further we, the undersigned, believe that the victims of gun violence extend beyond the grave of those 26 lost to these tragic shootings.” Wait . . .
How can you ban “gun violence”? That’s like saying ban crime. Which, as far as I know, is already true (ipso facto lads). And it’s “graves” not “grave.” Unless The Great Lake State’s Episcopal Church leaders think the victims of the Sandy Hook slaughter – which they mention without specifically referencing – were buried in a mass grave.
I bring up these quibbles because Resolution 7 is suffused with this type of unnecessary (Google is your friend) inaccuracy. But first, here’s the Episcopalians’ three-point plan to “ban gun violence.” They call for . . .
1. Requiring and enforcing universal background checks on all gun sales;
2. A clear ban on all future sales of military-style semi-automatic weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines and high-impact ammunition (i.e. ammunition more deadly than ordinarily used in hunting);
3. Making gun trafficking a Federal crime;
Yeah, I know: hunting ammo is far more deadly than most handgun ammo. And where’s that low-impact ammo when you don’t need it? Anyway, here’s the rest of their explanation/rationale for mooting this anti-gun misegos:
Access to guns with rapid fire ability and high capacity magazines are a common, deadly ingredient in these repeated killings. Wholesale murder is made possible because, those without [a] proper moral guide have easy access to these assault weapons. We as a society must face these hard truths. We must have federal and local legislation to ban assault weapons, limit the capacity of gun magazines, and institute universal background checks for all purchasers of firearms.
I don’t expect the religious leaders to be familiar with the fact that gun control laws don’t stop – or even slow down – spree killers. Or how limiting magazine capacity favors mass murderers rather than defenders of innocent life (which include the police with their “high capacity” magazines). Or the fact that many spree killers (e.g. Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho) passed background checks, or avoided them entirely (Adam Lanza shot his mother to take her guns).
But I would expect them to do enough research to know that spree killing isn’t the main problem constituting “gun violence” in the U.S. It’s firearms-related suicides, which account for nearly half of all firearms-related homicides. And criminal assault. Both of which would seem amenable to a religion-based resolution calling for a moral initiative.
Instead, Resolution 7 ends with a message from the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs:
“As an Episcopalian committed in baptism to seeking justice and peace and promoting the dignity of every human being, I commit to being part of the solution to the violence in our culture that claims the lives of 2000 innocent children through gun crimes each year. I commit to the pursuit of laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals, prioritize the needs of at-risk children, provide care for those suffering mental illness, and address the many ways in which our culture trivializes violence. I commit to holding my lawmakers, my community, and my own household accountable”.
Define “children” (the stat cited includes teenage gang-bangers). Define “innocent children” (same again). Define “violence in our culture.” Specify which laws you favor to “keep guns out of the hands of children.” Engage in a proper debate instead of resorting to homogenous homily.
Or not. Organized religion should offer moral guidance to its adherents, not political policy statements. In this view I am not alone.
“The people in my congregation don’t want to hear a social gospel,” [Rev. Steven Kelly, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church] said. “They want to hear about grace and forgiveness and salvation, so they can go out and do the right things, rather than have something new foisted upon them every week.” . . .
“Passing an inherently political resolution … does absolutely nothing to proclaim the glory of God and bring new people to the pews of churches,” [Dennis Lennox, a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Detroit] said. “I wish churches … would focus on being a house of prayer for all people, instead of becoming extensions of political movements and parties.”
Some do, Mr. Lennox, some don’t. And the ones who do are losing congregants and power. God bless our gun rights and God bless the free market.