On July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey—just across the Hudson River from Manhattan—two longtime political adversaries faced off in a duel. The result: Vice President Aaron Burr shot and mortally wounded the former secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton. (No, Dick Cheney was not the first vice president to shoot someone!) Dueling, which Benjamin Franklin characterized as a “murderous practice,” was technically illegal in most states.
History is littered with the husks of failed faith-based campaigns to change society. Will the current gun control push be different?
Would you want your son or daughter to go to a college where it is legal to possess a loaded gun in a dorm room? If not, you may want to think twice about sending your child to school in Texas. A bill under consideration in the state Senate, S. B. 182, would require all public colleges and universities to allow holders of a concealed handgun license to carry loaded weapons on campus.
A number of activist organizations are declaring March 15-17 "National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend." It's not clear if this is meant to replace The Brady Center's "God Not Guns Sabbath," which has been observed on the last weekend of September for a number of years. But the organizers seem eager to keep the event broadly ecumenical and interfaith.
Historians have argued for decades that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with the right to own a handgun nor even with the right to use a gun in self-defense. Nevertheless, a counternarrative—bolstered by the National Rifle Association—has triumphed in the popular mind and been codified to some extent in the Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which said that the Second Amendment “protects an individual right to possess a firearm.”
Rush Limbaugh: If a lot of African-Americans back in the '60s had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense, you think they would have needed Selma? . . . If John Lewis had had a gun, would he have been beat upside the head on the bridge? Rep. John Lewis: African Americans in the 60s could have chosen to arm themselves, but we made a conscious decision not to.
In the biblical perspective, social issues are always framed primarily as questions of obligation, not of individual rights.
Here's some good news: despite our short collective attention span, despite the fiscal-cliff debacle dominating the headlines shortly after the Newtown shooting, the U.S. scourge of gun violence is still part of the national conversation. Now, every time I hear a public official mention Newtown and Aurora but not Chicago—which experienced a startling spike in gun homicides in 2012, mostly in poor, black neighborhoods—I'm ashamed at the implication that some killings deserve more shock and outrage than others. Still, whatever it takes to motivate people to take on the pro-gun lobby, I'm grateful to see it happening.
On Sunday I attended a worship service at which the air was heavy with a sense of loss. But I saw the church being the church at its best.