Jesus inside the beltway: Two no-brainer gun policies

Continuing to blog through what I’m learning at the General Board of Church and Society Young Clergy Leadership Forum. We’re listening to a presentation about gun violence from a group called Heeding God’s Call that is blowing my mind. A common argument in debates over guns is that gun crimes are committed with guns that are purchased illegally. Two kids in my former youth group are in jail now because of crimes involving black market guns. So how do black market guns get out on the street? I never asked that question before. Well, I just found out one major way: it’s called straw purchasing and it’s perfectly legal.

Here’s how straw purchasing works. A black market gun dealer goes into a gun shop accompanied by someone who can pass the background check. The black market dealer picks out as many guns as he wants and then the person with the clean background steps forward to swipe the credit card and pass the check. The black market dealer pays his “straw purchaser” and leaves with a bag full of guns which he can then resell to teenagers, felons, and other people who can’t buy guns legally. Then if the gun is recovered during a crime and traced to the black market dealer, he says, “Man, somebody must have stolen that one, I’m really sorry.”

In any case, Heeding God’s Call is calling for what seem like two no-brainer gun policies whether they come through government legislation or voluntary codes of conduct which they have reached out to gun shop owners about adopting:

1) Putting some kind of limit on the number of guns that can be purchased in a month or a year if you’re not a licensed gun dealer. There is no reason to buy 10 handguns in one visit to a gun shop unless you’re going to sell them to multiple people. Somebody enlighten me if I’m missing something here.

2) Making gun purchasers liable for crimes committed with guns registered to them unless they have reported the gun as stolen or lost. I can’t believe that this is not currently the case.


22 thoughts on “Jesus inside the beltway: Two no-brainer gun policies

  1. Before you pontificate get your facts straight. And don’t demonize me.
    You were obviously wrong about the law, now you have your dander up because I pointed that out.
    Let’s see…commit a crime, then get in trouble…isn’t that how the law works?
    Or maybe in order to “do something about it” you would prefer everyone treated as a criminal from the get go.
    Please let me know if you are as concerned about wars of aggression, nuclear weapons, abortion, Presidential approved assassination, and the ongoing war on the poor as you are about small arms in the hands of “Brown” kids.
    May God help us, I am just as concerned about violence and suffering as you, if not more so. But I know the problem does not exist in one’s owning a gun, but in the heart. We should be calling for personal transformation, not more prison and restrictions.

    • So you’re categorically opposed to any form of regulation related to guns since it’s just a “heart” thing. And you play the typical rhetorical game where if I stand up for one cause, it means I must not care about anything else. Yeah I can’t really engage you seriously. Sorry.

      • Morton, you’re not getting it. The only thing that is keeping America from sliding into a total fascistic state, where the people are no longer the sovereign of our nation but are instead subject to any and all government whim, is a well armed population. Nothing else will provoke serious respect for the power of the people to demand liberty. Are you one of those who are willing to trade liberty for safety? If you succeed in pushing such a trade through in America you will lose both. History leaves no question about that unless you think human nature has somehow evolved to where power no longer corrupts.

        • The real relevant question is whether I am part of the body of Christ or the body of Satan. The body of Christ wins through love; the body of Satan wins through violence. Even if there were a fascist conspiracy, I would still live and die as a Christian.

      • Forgive me Morgan. One of the things I will make an effort on during Lent is contention.
        I didn’t mean to play any games, but merely tried to point out that if we only oppose perceived evils that “push our buttons”, while ignoring those we are more used to we are being hypocritical and prideful.
        And again, pardon me, but you do seem to have ‘buttons’ that are pushed rather easily.
        So do I unfortunately. You see, I grew up around the “gun culture” and while I have seen some abuses ( victim of armed robbery, been shot at also) for the most part have found people who own and use guns to be the salt of the earth and good children of God.
        Another question – and not a rhetorical device – is it permissible to resist evil via self-defense or defense of innocents?
        I do admire pacifism, even if I can’t fully embrace it.

        • Thank you Steve. I too need your forgiveness for being quick to anger which is the opposite of the way God has been with me. My grandpa taught me how to shoot a gun. My dad never owned one so I guess I’m one degree of separation removed from the gun world. I’ve never been hunting but I would love to go sometime. My wife won’t let me keep one in the house even though I’m haunted by the thought of what would happen if I were unable to defend my family. I’m not a pacifist. On a lot of ethical issues, I just have to be a pragmatist.

          I think what needs to be separated out is inappropriately judging responsible gun owners and figuring out objectively how to go after the processes that are getting guns into the hands of teenagers. We shouldn’t just throw up our hands and say it’s the gangs. I love my gangster kids and I’ve tried my hardest to help them become gangsters for Jesus. If their weapons supply line can be cut off, then one more temptation is eliminated. My hope is that there’s some way that can be done.

    • It seems to me that if Morgan was wrong about whatever is on the books, then fine… he was wrong (I don’t know either way). But I don’t understand the mean aggression of your responses here. It causes me to think that there is not kindness in your heart toward others. This does not help your cause with me. In my experience, I have learned there is a link between kindness and truth and you will have a hard time convincing me of any truth that is expressed without regard to the feelings and well-being of another. There is a way to be “right” without being right. I hope that in the future, if you have something important to say, you will consider the approach and spirit of the matter as much as content of the matter.

  2. AMEN!

    Can I assume you also support universal background checks? Your first policy seems to presuppose it, which is why I ask.

  3. “Straw purchases” are indeed already illegal under current Federal law and that is noted in the form 4473 which gun purchasers are required to complete at time of purchase, after which they must be approved through the FBI data base.
    A straw purchaser can get 10 years in prison under current Federal law.
    Also you need to be aware that someone who buys 3 or more firearms at one time is immediately reported to Federal authorities.
    Please learn what you are talking about if you don’t know, or stop addressing the subject.
    As far as holding an innocent party responsible for another’s actions…
    I would say we have enough innocent people in prison already.

    • If someone makes a good suggestion, and that suggestion is already on the books as law, why denigrate the person making the suggestion as opposed to complimenting him on his insightfulness at being in tune with what others who have gone before have already concluded. Seems to me like you might be just trolling for something to gripe about. Just saying.

    • I’m just basing what I’m sharing on the testimony I’m hearing from someone whose organization has been going after problem gun shops in urban Philadelphia where straw purchasing happens and they tell the authorities and nothing happens. That sounds like a really passive enforcement system by the way if what you’re saying is accurate. Fill out a form and if you happen to get caught after the fact then you get in trouble. What do you think people like us should do actively to reduce gun violence as opposed to just saying it’s those brown gangster kids and washing your hands of it?

    • This is a personal issue for me. Two of those brown thug kids that people talk about being the problem are youth whom I mentored. They somehow got a gun that somebody at one point in the supply chain bought legally. Now a little girl whom I love is dead and two kids I spent two years trying to help make it out of the hood are in jail. If I can figure out how to make it harder for guns to get into the hands of immature kids, then I’m going to.

  4. Morton, you won’t fully understand what is happening in the firearms debate until you recognize that those pushing for tight gun controls (read eventual total ban and confiscation) aren’t interested in common sense ideas that also protect 2nd Amendment rights. They’re real purposes are to disarm all citizens who may object violently to the current well-known but publicly unacknowledged master plans to destroy the US dollar and US sovereignty.

      • Get away from the filtered, sanctioned news media and examine a broader sample of information. Then start reading historical documents that the Elite are no longer bothering to suppress because they arrogantly believe their plan is unstoppable now. Start with the writings of G. Edward Griffin. When you’re ready, in a few years probably, you can begin digesting books like Tragedy and Hope by Clinton mentor Carroll Quigley. Along the way you’ll reach a point where the veil is lifted from your eyes and you’ll feel sick that you were blinded so long.

        • Oh you’re being serious. You know even if the Illuminati is in charge or the Carlisle Group and it’s all this deep, dark conspiracy, Jesus is victorious over all those powers and principalities known or unknown and I’m going to live in His kingdom and deal with the realities that are in front of me following His example. Perhaps you and I don’t share the same faith, but if we do, then please answer how it helps build the kingdom of God and/or bring other people to Christ for you to get tangled up in conspiracy theories.

      • @thomaspriest I think what I’m questioning is how you know your sources are telling the truth and other sources are lying. Every side of every debate has years worth of sources to read. Also, it’s a bit presumptuous of you to tell me to examine a broader sample of information. I don’t think we’ve met, either online or otherwise, so I don’t understand how you could possibly know about what kind of information I do or do not take in. To be honest, I already tend to stay away from “sanctioned news media,” and I consider myself to be quite diverse and eclectic both in my viewpoints and in the kinds of things I read and watch as well as the people I speak with. As far as a veil being lifted from my eyes, I’ve already had that experience and continue to have it. It occurred first when I experienced a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, present already on this earth. But it’s never a finished work and I begin to “see anew” in other areas of life the more I experience them. I am a Christian and as such I have only one Lord, who I try to follow in all things (sometimes successfully and sometimes not). Christ and his Kingdom dictate my worldview–not politicians or media (of any kind) or political theorists or conspiracy theorists or founding fathers or revolutionaries or authors or documentaries or principalities and powers. As far as God’s means of politics for this world are concerned, I know there are some incompatible philosophies between his Kingdom and the little I have seen you espouse in your comments here. It would seem to me that we are simply followers of different ways (religions, philosophies, ways of life) and have different sources of authority in our lives (I’ve already mentioned mine), and this is fine. We have simply had different experiences. Although, I could be wrong; I am only basing this off of how you have responded to me and others here in this very limited fashion. As for me, the search for a “Kingdom ethic” has been my personal obsession for about half of my life. I also have years worth of reading I could suggest for you in this area so you may be ready for and some you may not, but as I do not really know you or what you’re all about, I do not want to risk sounding presumptuous, pompous, or arrogant (although, I confess I may very well be guilty of these things whether I sound that way or not). Unfortunately, it has been my experience more times than not that when people start talking about wanting others to take in broader sources of information, what they really mean is that they want you to “narrow” your view more toward their own specific personal sources of information (in reality, we’re all biased). But if “broad” open-mindedness to information is what you are truly attempting to suggest here, then I can find no fault with that. Grace and peace.

  5. Seems fair to me but it might ruin my idea of getting hand guns for all my groomsmen last minute (this isn’t serious… just an attempt to show that someone can always come up with some off-the wall reason).

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