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Jim Wallis gets it right ...

on guns and violence. Quotable:

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said this as his response to the massacre of children at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Conn.: “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

That statement is at the heart of the problem of gun violence in America today — not just because it is factually flawed, which of course it is, but also because it is morally mistaken, theologically dangerous, and religiously repugnant.

The world is not full of good and bad people; that is not what our scriptures teach us. We are, as human beings, both good and bad. This is not only true of humanity as a whole, but we as individuals have both good and bad in us. When we are bad or isolated or angry or furious or vengeful or politically agitated or confused or lost or deranged or unhinged — and we have the ability to get and use weapons only designed to kill large numbers of people — our society is in great danger.

As the debate about guns intensifies in coming weeks, I keep thinking of these words from Psalm 20: "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." Horses and chariots represented the drones and nuclear weapons of the ancient world. King David - known for his military prowess - realized the idolatrous seduction of weapons, and expressed in this Psalm his desire not to fall prey to that temptation, not only for spiritual reasons, but for practical ones. In words that anticipated Jesus' words about living and dying by the sword, David continued, "[Those who trust in weapons] will collapse and fall, but we [who trust in a just and reconciling God] shall rise and stand upright.' A stark choice for us to ponder today.

When good people trust violence to stop violence, they simultaneously weaken their identity as good people and reduce their capacity to realize that weakening.