Friday, March 16, 2018


Most of us are aware of the brutality and carnage in Mexico produced by the drug cartels. I have falsely assumed that our US gun problem could, in part, be traced to guns being purchased in Mexico and brought across the border. Apparently, the reverse is true.

In 2010 Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed a joint session of the US Congress and said he was worried about the flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico — he told lawmakers the violence started to increase in his country soon after an assault-rifle ban expired in the U.S. in 2004.

"I will ask Congress to help us, with respect, and to understand how important it is for us that you enforce current laws to stem the supply of these weapons to criminals and consider reinstating the assault-weapons ban," he said.

“Over the past three years, Mexican authorities have seized some 75,000 weapons used in crime; 80 percent of which came from the US.”

That same year, the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico asked the Presbyterian Church (USA) for help.

Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ:

The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico is worried due to the high percentage of violence that we are living in our country today. Kidnapping and murders are there everywhere, especially in cities such as Tijuana, Monterrey, Juarez City, Morella, (and)  Acapulco.

That is why we come to you brothers and sisters in Christ so that you may help us according to your possibilities in transmitting our concerns to those in charge of selling guns to Mexican people. Since the guns are used by drug dealers to kill, and in many cases—sadly to say—innocent people.

So as leaders of the NPC of Mexico, we have come to the conclusion that we have to raise our voices against violence; and together with you all, we might share the same feeling so that our presidents may work hard to make stability a reality in our countries.

We truly appreciate your gentle attention to this letter. [i]

[i] “Fix Border Policy, Mexican Leader Tells U.S. Congress,” by Michele Kelemen, NPR, 6/20/10
& James Atwood, America and Its Guns, Cascade Books, 2012, pp. 181-2

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


In American culture, freedom is our most celebrated ideal. We were founded around the idea of freedom, indeed fought a revolution to be free from a king. The American fabric includes a free press, freedom to worship as we please, and living in a free society. At times, our foreign policy is driven by a notion to “export freedom.”

Freedom is also a celebrated ideal within Christian faith. Here is what the Apostle Paul wrote to new Christians in Galatia:  

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.  (Galatians 5: 13-15)

My journey is understanding guns and gun violence from a Christian perspective. More and more I believe the meaning of “freedom” is where we must ponder our differences. There is often a difference in the way many Americans understand freedom and what Christians believe about freedom.

From Paul’s words we (Christians) understand freedom as the freedom to love others in community; that Christian freedom is not about me, or my rights, or self-indulgence. No, we are slaves/servants of one another. In essence, freedom is centered in what Jesus said was THE most important commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Christian freedom is best understood within the context of what we can do for another. I wonder if Paul’s cautionary words connecting freedom to devouring one another can be understood as our gun freedoms devouring nearly 30,000 Americans every year?  Perhaps at the center of our Christian pondering is whether we believe that it is necessary to sacrifice a personal right or the freedom to buy and carry ANY gun, so that we acknowledge the community’s need for public safety?  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Tragedies Getting Ready to Happen

I am finding others who are trying to understand guns and gun violence from a Biblical, theological and spiritual perspective. One is James Atwood, a Presbyterian minister in Virginia who began his career as a missionary to Japan. This is from one of his books:

No one can deny the crimes committed by Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Italy England, France China and Japan, to name a few. All the same, after two centuries their societies are relatively free of gun violence, while ours is the most dangerous in the industrialized world. It’s not because their citizens are more loving or kind; it’s something else, something simple: these former colonialist powers do not permit easy access to guns.

Americans are not meaner or more violent than citizens of Europe, China or Japan. They too are fascinated with violence. They watch the same violent movies, engage in violent sports, play the same video games, sell the same kinds of toys, read the same comics, etc. The only difference is most Americans can get a gun within a few hours or a few minutes. Some of us call such access to guns freedom. As a gun owner who has ministered to gun victims and their families, I call such easy access tragedies getting ready to happen.[i]

[i] James Atwood, America and Its Guns, Cascade Books, 2012, p. 69