DAVID ROSMAN: Politicians turn gun ownership into religious issue

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

I wish to talk about federal and Missouri legislators who insist on pushing religion upon the public through the legislative process. And there is a lot to write about, such as how these moves are causing a dangerous imbalance of the power between the two and the possibility of the United States being dominated by one religious entity over all others, including atheism.

One of the major points is the obvious violation of the First Amendment by those pushing agendas of permitting organized prayer in schools, anti-abortion legislation, marriage equality opposition and an unquestioned, God-given right to bear arms. These arguments being advanced by the religious right, or being politically incorrect, the Christian conservative political movement, appear to have the same bottom line — that the Bible or God justify these positions.

In fact, the demonization of those who wish a separation or even a balance between our secular and sectarian authorities has become very clear since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Prominent political leaders, Newt Gingrich and Gov. Rick Perry, to name two, are blaming the loss of God in our education systems as the reason for mass murders.

Attempting to find such proposed legislation on the Missouri legislative docket is not an easy job, mostly because the titles and keywords offered are limited.

Rep. Mark Parkinson, R- St. Peters, introduced HCR8, which opens with; “… ‘First Law of Nature’ [is] the natural and fundamental right of all persons to ‘self preservation’, ‘self-defense’, and a ‘right of revolution’ against any and all dangers to life, liberty, and property…” That is not quite what Thomas Hobbes said in “Leviathan.”

This is not to say that religion is wrong or itself demonized. Christian leaders are, in part, responsible for pushing the gun control discussion front and center. The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein tells her readers that the “Rev. Larry Snyder, the head of the Catholic Church’s social service arm; National Association of Evangelicals' Leith Anderson; and mainline leaders from the Episcopal and Lutheran churches” have signed a communique calling for better gun control legislation. The communique includes that:

  1. Every person who buys a gun should pass a criminal background check.
  2. High-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines should not be available to civilians.
  3. Gun trafficking should be a federal crime.

As powerful a voice is in the secular community, with the National Atheist Party stating that, “The NAP is calling for stricter federal and state gun control laws and the reinstatement of the assault rifle ban.”

The problem is that others within the religious communities are arguing that owning a gun is a God-given right. Charles Dickinson, writing a letter to the Reno Gazette-Journal, is very typical of the sentiment. He wrote, “I don’t consider the Second Amendment to be my 'right' to own a gun. My right comes from God and cannot be legislated away. The Second Amendment only restricts the government from infringing on these rights.”

Author John S. Winter of Ontario, Canada, writes in a promotion for his upcoming book, "The Bible and Gun Control," that “Christ encourages his disciples to sell a coat and ‘buy a sword’ for self-defense. (See Luke 22:35-38.)”

Blogger Japete, in her “Common Gunsense,” blog, talks about her pastor friend who coined the term "Gundamentalism" defining those who believe “that gun rights are God-given rights that cannot be limited at all. This belief in divinely given gun rights lifts gun rights above all others in the Constitution.”

Why are we making gun ownership and limitations on handguns, shotguns and long rifles, or the restriction on magazine capacity, like currently proposed in New York state, a religious issue? And if gun ownership is considered an issue addressed by the Christian scriptures, then would the lack of any gun control legislation in itself be a violation of the First Amendment?

Worse, why do the Gundamentalists use their God to instill fear? What is the ultimate fear being instilled upon each of us by using biblical verse to justify the unlimited ownership of firearms and ammunition?

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Michael Williams January 16, 2013 | 10:13 a.m.

"...why do the Gundamentalists use their God to instill fear?"

Seems to me the fearmongers amongst us are those who pass out in a dead faint at the mere outlined drawing of a gun. They are the same folks who thought CCW would cause frequent gunfights at the OK Corral, but they were wrong then, too.

Rosman begins with a "wish to talk about...legislators who insist on pushing religion upon the public through the legislative process", immediately goes searching for an "out" by saying such "pushing" is kinda-sorta hard to find, and finally can only muster one such instance (HCR8) which states the obvious fact that self-preservation is pretty damn important. Hopefully, Rosman once agreed with this latter notion while struggling to get his genetics to reproductive age.

In reviewing Rosman's examples, other than a brief mention of Gingrich and Perry, it seems to me he had to dig pretty deep into NON-legislative folks to support his thesis that legislators are running amok relating God and guns. Indeed, the entirety of his sources were (a) a letter-writer to a newspaper, (b) an author, (c) a blogger, and (d)...uh, he ran out of sources.

These are legislators?

Looks to me like Rosman faced a monumental struggle to defend his thesis. In fact, I don't think he defended his thesis at all.


(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 16, 2013 | 10:41 a.m.

In fact, look at the headline to this article: "Politicians turn gun ownership into religious issue."

And Rosman's opening line: "I wish to talk about federal and Missouri legislators who insist on pushing religion upon the public through the legislative process."

Can ANYONE please point me to the part of the article that defends either of these statements? Hell, Rosman was able to come up with only ONE such example of legislative action, so at the very least the Missourian's headline with the plural "politicians" is pure exaggeration.

I've mentioned before about Missourian biases hidden in word choices, grammar, tone, etc. But, in this particular case, we have a deception by both the newspaper and the author.

Neither supported their claim.

(Report Comment)
Jim Jones January 16, 2013 | 3:24 p.m.

OK, here is the thing, Abortion and Gun Control are both issues that are EMOTIONAL, that will be argued over by people on all sides of the issues. Religion will be used by many to justify their stand. For centuries, when an issue is being promoted or protested, and logic & common sense fail to win the argument, people could always drag in the religious component and try to GUILT everyone into silence!

In reality, we need to control the entertainment and computer games industries just as much as people are wanting to control the gun industry. How many computer games are based on shooting, killing and blowing things up? How many movies are there that are devoted to shooting and killing and blowing things up? How many TV shows are based on shootings, killings and blowing things up? As long as we treat those things as normal or acceptable, why should we expect people to behave responsibly with guns? Why are the religion factories not protesting the violence on TV and in movies and computer games? Are they too busy making money on their stock portfolio and don't want to jeopardize that income?

Religion is just a big stick that is trotted out in order to beat people into thinking a certain way! And everyone's way seems to be slightly different.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 16, 2013 | 4:22 p.m.

Here is a different way. Rahm Emanuel, Democrat Mayor of the town with the highest murder rate in the country, stated that he intends to require any retirement plan that he is able to control, immediately divest itself of the stock of any gun manufacturer. Too bad he doesn't have a CBO to determine how that will effect the criminals, he allows to run the streets of Chicago.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 16, 2013 | 9:10 p.m.

JimJ asks, " Why are the religion factories not protesting the violence on TV and in movies and computer games?"

They are doing exactly that. In fact, religious folks seem to have been the only significant protest over the last 5 decades of incrementalism. You must of missed it.

Of course, every time one of those "religion factories" opens it's mouth in protest, some liberal screams "separation of church and state!" and the conversation comes to a screeching halt. The same thing happens when someone screams "racism!"

As for "logic & common sense fail to win the argument"....precisely. Happens all the time and all arguers claim the most logical and most common sensical side, astounded that anyone could possibly think otherwise. Indeed, the fact that an opposing side DOES think otherwise is taken as evidence for illogical thinking subject to dismissal.

Kinda circular.

The problem a-religious folks have with their arguments is all minds are created equal, but there is no final arbiter. No one, and no thing, can be deemed right or wrong. There are no natural rights because a right is never subject to withdrawal or modification. And with minds defining "rights", there's always the possibility for change.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 16, 2013 | 9:14 p.m.

"...people could always drag in the religious component and try to GUILT everyone into silence!"

Now that's funny.

To prove it, let's rewrite it; the rewritten part is in brackets:

"...people could always drag in the [race] component and try to GUILT everyone into silence!

See? It's fun saying such things.........

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates January 18, 2013 | 3:54 p.m.

I never read much past Rosman's first paragraph or two......

(Report Comment)
David Rosman January 21, 2013 | 5:33 p.m.

Michael - Sorry for the delay- My ISP has been down and I just got the computer back.

Let's see - Prayer in school, right to pray Amendments, Abortion, guns, school vouchers, to name a few. I hope that answers your question.

(Report Comment)

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