Thursday, June 30, 2011

A New Form of Gambling: Concealed Hand Guns

I walked into the Quik Trip to pay for my gas. In line was a man with a gun strapped to his thigh. Maybe he was law enforcement or a business owner. As I returned to my car, I was reminded that there are probably a lot more hand guns around me than I imagine.

Iowa is one of 39 states with “shall-issue” laws that permit citizens to carry concealed hand guns. As of January 1, 2011 in Polk County alone, a staggering 5,200 applications for permits has created an overwhelming work load in the Polk County Sheriff’s Department. For $55 cash and a valid driver’s license, you can exercise your right to carry a weapon.

The United States has 90 guns for every 100 citizens, making it the most heavily armed society in the world. About 100 million handguns are owned by civilians. Are we hoping that a 400% increase in concealed weapons will make Iowa a safer state? Is this a new form of gambling, pitting personal right to bear arms against the proclamation of the Prince of Peace, who calls us to be peacemakers?

The second amendment of the United States Constitution states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of the free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

When our children were school-aged and spent the night or weekend with friends, we as parents inquired about guns in the homes where they were staying. “If you have weapons, are they properly secured and inaccessible to children?”

We are living in a different time where paradox and contradictions are woven into the “fabric of society”. As long as applicants meet certain state requirement, they cannot be denied a permit to carry a hand gun. (The applicant cannot be a felon, have a domestic violence conviction, a conviction for assault in the last three years or have been committed with mental impairments.)

The “blue light special” is on and gun sales are up. I am not so naive as to think that Christians are not well represented in the new applicants for gun permits. My question, “Is this advent of more people ‘packing heat’ a commentary on our view of society as more evil than good and more dangerous than safe?”

The United Methodist Church General Conference adopts resolutions to be considered official expressions of the church. Resolution #3426, Gun Violence, the very last line printed in this 2008 adopted version, #11 – “reflecting the traditional role of the United Methodist Church [that] has been one of safety and sanctuary, every United Methodist Church is officially declared a weapon-free zone.”

“In the name of Christ who came and
proclaimed peace to you who were far off and
peace to those who were near.”
Ephesians 2:17

I welcome your reflections as we journey together.

Be encouraged,

Data taken from the Iowa CityView, newsweekly April 21-27, 2011;

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