During the most recent political campaign, two snipers were on the loose near the nation’s capital, ultimately killing ten and wounding another three persons. You would think that the murder spree would have propelled gun control onto the national agenda. But weapons of mass destruction abroad trumped any talk about weapons of destruction at home.
To worry publicly about the increasing disparities of wealth and income in this country is to invite the charge of fomenting “class warfare.” Nevertheless, consider: Top CEOs earn 1,000 times the pay of an average worker—a ratio that has increased exponentially in the past three decades.
Only 15 percent of American congregations have grown by even one person in the last five years, according to the Parish Paper newsletter. There are no doubt many demographic explanations for why congregations’ memberships decline or plateau, but it’s also true that some congregations don’t know how to grow or don’t really want to grow.
Though his opponents tagged him as “embarrassingly liberal” and outside mainstream politics, Paul Wellstone won two terms as a U.S. senator, and he had a strong chance of winning a third term when he was killed in a plane crash while campaigning in Minnesota on October 24.
Americans are fearful these days. September 11 snatched from us (forever?) a feeling of invincibility, a sense of being safe and secure from foreign invasion. Now we keep getting homeland security warnings about the probability of another terrorist attack. Besides that, a crazed sniper is on the loose around Washington, D.C.
The growth in the number of civilians owning military-style guns can be traced back to a deal made in the mid-1980s between Rene Carlos Vos, a gun dealer, and Wayne LaPierre, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. They formed a company called Blue Sky to import from South Korea M-1 rifles that had been used in the Korean War. The legislation that made the project possible was an amendment to a Senate bill offered by Bob Dole, Republican senator from Kansas, which for the first time allowed the importation of U.S. military weapons as long as they were “curios and relics.” LaPierre soon pulled out of Blue Sky when it faced criminal charges, and Vos was killed in a plane crash in 1987, but the company opened a floodgate of guns. By 2012, one million of what gun advocates call “modern sporting rifles” were flooding the U.S. market each year, from both foreign and domestic sources (Washington Post, May 3).