Saturday, April 25, 2020

My God and My Glock – The Theology of Guns in America

The Glock is a series of  semi-automatic pistols designed Austrian manufacturer Glock Ges.m.b.H.
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According to Americans, God is a really pro-gun dude. In fact, one pastor of a New Bethel Christian Church gave a sermon where he announced that “God and guns were part of the foundation of this country.”, and invited his entire congregation to wear their guns to church to “celebrate our rights as Christian Americans”.
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Most US states permit the carrying of loaded and concealed weapons in churches. This has become a crusade where one’s belief in God and His Holy Gospels are at stake, with one minister claiming “When someone tells me that being a Christian and carrying firearms are contradictions, that’s just bull—“.
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In an article that Watching America translated from the German Die Tageszeitung was this passage:

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“Among the books on the shelf behind Pastor James McAbee’s desk are two Bibles. He quotes scripture from one – those passages that portray God as a warrior – and the other is hollowed out to conceal a pistol. Loaded. Always close at hand. James McAbee is a man of God and a man of guns. He makes more money from the guns than he does from God. James McAbee loved guns before he loved God. Now he loves both and doesn’t consider that contradictory. McAbee’s parishioners come to church armed, and he personally always has an Austrian Glock .40 caliber on his person or in his car.”
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One of the most jealously-guarded rights of Americans is the ‘right to bear arms’. And bear arms, they do.
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The US is the most heavily armed civilian society in the world, with only 4% of the world’s population, but owning more guns than all other citizens in the entire rest of the world combined. Private American civilians own more non-military firearms (about 310 million) than do all the police forces and military (about 225 million) in the entire rest of the world combined; if we include privately-owned military hardware, the total becomes much higher yet.
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This civilian 4% of the world’s population owns more than 30% of the world’s total of guns and small arms, and purchases about 60% of all new guns manufactured each year.
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In an example so typical of America today, a young man following his GPS on his way to pick up a friend, pulled into the driveway of the wrong house. The owner came out, shot the young man in the head and threatened also to shoot his girlfriend, on the claim he was defending himself. His lawyer’s defense, which was sickeningly lapped up by the media, was to say, “The (killer’s) family is grief-stricken and is lifting the family of (the victim) up in prayer.”

Touching. People in the US are shot and killed daily for any reason and for no reason. Offending someone with a tweet, looking the wrong way at someone’s girl, losing your friend’s ipod, taking another person’s parking place, disputing a debt, butting into a line, making noise in a movie theater, slurping your coffee, refusing to surrender the TV remote to your brother, being black, are all perfectly good reasons to be shot and killed.
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Firearm-related injuries send an average of 20 American children each day to the hospital and a larger number to the cemetery.
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Typical examples: a Kentucky boy shot and killed his two-year-old sister; a 4-year-old girl killed her 4-year-old cousin; a 5-year-old girl and her mother both shot in the head by another child; a 3-year old girl shot her 2-year old brother; 2-year old Kentucky girl shot and killed by her 5-year old brother; two toddlers shot to death in their strollers; 4-year old neighbor shoots 6-year old in the head; 4-year old found a loaded gun and shot and killed the wife of the police chief at a family party. In a supermarket, a two-year old sitting in a shopping cart pulled a gun from his mother’s purse (a gun her husband had just given her as a Christmas gift) and shot her dead. (1)
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The world was shocked at the Sandy Hook School shooting, but that was just one of hundreds of similar mass killings in American schools in the recent past, with normally at least one school shooting occurring per week. In one 6-month period from 2012, there were 80 of these, 40 at universities and 40 in kindergartens and elementary schools. (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
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On the weekend of April 15, 2014, more than 36 people were shot in Chicago in only 36 hours, and more than 45 people were shot during the entire weekend. It was worse a few months later, when the July Fourth holiday had more than 80 shootings, and the next weekend saw another 45 shootings. Chicago alone had more than 1,000 shootings in less than six months, and Chicago is by no means the worst of American cities for gun deaths. The nation’s capital, Washington, DC, with a population of half a million people, has more murders than does Shanghai with 25 million people. Each day in the US, more than 200 people are admitted to hospital emergency wards with gunshot wounds.
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And what do Americans do, in the wake of such tragic violence? Well, they do what every thinking human would do – they buy more guns.
After the Sandy Hook school shooting, gun sales in the US soared by about 30%, with more than 17 million Americans suddenly applying for gun permits. The shelves in gun shops were empty and gun shows were so crowded some had to restrict attendance, and prices of many items had tripled due to the demand. The ammunition supplier Brownells reported that it had sold 3.5 years’ worth of magazine clips in just 36 hours after the school shooting. On Black Friday, the great shopping holiday following Thanksgiving, the FBI tell us a gun is sold every three seconds in America. (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15)
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And they especially buy more guns at Christmas, with a long tradition of using Santa Claus to sell more guns to kill more people, retailers claiming there is “no reason Santa Claus and guns can’t mix”. In parts of the US, stores offer youngsters a chance to pose for photos with Santa and their favorite gun. And in Canada, the (probably) criminally-insane executives of the National Rifle Association featured ads of Santa giving a small boy an AR-15 rifle, which is a $1,000 military-grade semi-automatic weapon with a 30-shot clip. Just what every little kid needs for a school massacre.
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But then, just because Santa is promoting military weaponry for little kids doesn’t mean they might conclude it’s okay to kill somebody. (16) (17)
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Americans also have the right to carry these loaded guns with them everywhere. And carry them, they do, to schools, universities, churches and shopping malls, to the workplace and the playground. Not only that, but they want more guns in more places. New laws increasingly permit US university students to carry concealed and loaded weapons on campuses and to their classes. Some years ago, a former US Marine climbed to the 28th-floor observation deck of a campus clock tower and shot 49 people, killing 16 of them.REF Gun proponents claim that a fully-armed student body all carrying loaded guns could prevent another such event. (18) (19) (20)
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Chinese students at American universities are worried, and with good reason. US elementary schools will now have a “school shield”, consisting of armed staff and teachers, a deranged faculty to engage in firefights with deranged students. One student named Ken Stanton said he chose to attend Colorado State University because he wanted to be on a campus where he could carry a loaded gun to class, perhaps to settle debates about the professor’s economics theories. With Obama’s blessing, Americans are now permitted to carry loaded weapons into national parks and on Amtrak trains. Be sure you don’t sit in someone else’s seat.
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In an article in the Huffington Post, Tom Engelhardt wrote,
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“To put all this in perspective, less than two decades ago, fewer than a million concealed weapons were being legally carried in the U.S.; now, more than one million people are permitted to carry such weapons in Florida alone.
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He also noted some statistics indicating that in the US you are in less danger of being killed by a terrorist attack than being shot by a little kid who got his hands on a gun. You are thousands of times more likely to be shot with your own gun than by a terrorist, and far more likely to be shot and killed by the police than either a little kid or a terrorist.
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Not only will teachers be fully armed from kindergarten onward, the US now has a thriving new industry in the manufacture and sale of bulletproof uniforms for school children, ballistic products that are scaled-down versions of military armor. One manufacturer says his products should not be alarming to children because “It’s just like finding life jackets on ships or planes”.
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And besides, 6-year old kids wearing bulletproof body armor to school “is no different than wearing a seat belt in a car”. American children will now also have bulletproof backpacks (pink for girls), while whiteboards and other schoolroom equipment will now also be fabricated from bulletproof materials. It used to be that the biggest problems in elementary schools were children talking in class and chewing gum. No longer. But it isn’t all bad. The Americans are finally taking some useful action not only to control gun violence but to create a strong deterrent by punishing the guilty. As proof, a few months ago one US school suspended a 7-year old kid for biting his cookie into the shape of a gun. No immediate report on a drop in gun violence.
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Many nations and provinces have their national flower or animal, but US States are now legislating a “State gun”. Arizona’s governor just signed such a bill into law, a bill written by a lobbyist hired by the Colt firearm company. According to the lobbyist, on any given day about 40% of the people are carrying concealed and loaded weapons because “People want to be able to keep themselves and their families safe”. Safe from other crazy Americans, no doubt. Another American was asked about Japan, where strict gun laws have produced a virtual absence of violent murders, and replied “I wouldn’t want to live in a country where I couldn’t defend myself”. And I wouldn’t want to live in a country where I had to.
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As John Kozy wrote,
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there is no reason that people living in a civilised state should need guns, which have killing as their only use and purpose. “If guns are needed for self-protection, the state has failed in its primary function”. (21)
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And it’s even worse than this, because researchers have demonstrated that the ownership of a weapon is “43 times more likely to be involved in the death of a member of the household than to be used in self-defense”. And the US courts are astonishingly perverse in their application of law. When 11 small children were shot to death in a movie theater in Colorado, one set of parents sued the dealer who had sold the guns and 4,000 rounds of armor-piercing ammunition to the killer without even checking his ID. They argued that a responsible check of the customer would have prevented the sale.  The parents not only lost the court case, but were ordered to pay the dealer more than $200,000 to compensate him for legal and other expenses. (22)
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Indeed, there is an enormous push at the moment by what is called the “open-carry movement”, that is, openly carrying loaded guns everywhere, funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the gun manufacturers. As part of a promotional campaign, they have been arranging events which many people attend, fully armed, in shopping malls, restaurants, and coffee shops like Starbucks. Anti-gun people are savagely denounced as socialists and thieves who want to “destroy American democracy”. Sarah, a 22-year-old psychology student, wears golden earrings shaped like guns and carries a hunting rifle slung over her shoulder. “I want to protect my kids”, she says. Her six-year-old stepdaughter already owns a .22 caliber weapon. Her three-year-old sister will soon be introduced to firearms. What could possibly go wrong?
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In 2014 two pro-gun Americans named Brian Jeffs and Nathan Nephew produced a childrens’ picture book titled ‘My Parents Open Carry’, to explain to American children that their mother is normal, and not crazy, when she openly carries a loaded handgun to go shopping at the mall. The book has cartoon drawings of a beautiful blue-eyed American family, normal Christians in every respect, including the handguns on their belts. The book was a runaway success. (23) (24) (25) (26)
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The authors said their goal was to provide “a wholesome family book that reflects the views of the majority of the American people, i.e., that self-defense is a basic natural right and that firearms provide the most efficient means for that defense.” And they produced the book because, according to them,
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“we fear our children are being raised with a biased view of our constitution.”
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One “supporter” quoted on the book’s website, said it was “a wholesome children’s book on the joys of having parents openly carrying loaded guns.” One (real) critic described the book as “a day in the life of a typical criminally-insane American family”, and “a primer for the children of gun nuts who’ll be lucky to see their 10th birthday”.
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The NRA’s influence on introducing legislation has been remarkable. The debate about guns is no longer over whether assault rifles ought to be banned, but over whether guns should be allowed in bars, churches and colleges. The National Rifle Association has not only had remarkable success in forcing legislation favorable to gun ownership, but it is heavily involved in the financing and media control of the elections of candidates who do not openly promote guns. It spent by its own admission more than $20 million to have defeated, by its own efforts, 19 of 24 Congressmen who opposed increased gun ownership or promoted gun restrictions. (27) (28) (29) (30) (31) (32)

And several well-known columnists or magazine editors have lost their jobs by daring to criticise either the NRA or its agenda. Other lobby groups like the pharmaceutical industry spend more money, but few do it with a vengeance that approaches that of the NRA. One US Presidential candidate said frankly, “Every president wants to be re-elected, and gun bans are pretty much a nonstarter”. The NRA categorised gun restrictions as “a premise that defies common sense”. One anti-violence official said, “The pro-gun lobby has done a very good job in convincing people that if they give up their guns they’re going to lose something very valuable, their personal freedom.
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They’ve been able to equate the possession of a handgun in a public place with freedom.” And to include it within the meaning of ‘democracy’.

Gun deaths are so prevalent in the US today that more people die from gunshots than auto accidents, not counting those shot and killed by the police. And lastly, given the nearly 100,000 gun killings each year in the US, one of the features in daily newspapers in many cities is a list of killings by district. Click the button, find your neighborhood, and learn how many more people were killed there today. In China, parents look for new homes near good schools and it is beyond astonishing that Americans in many cities instead use the number of killings by neighborhood as their main reference when buying a new home, looking to avoid neighborhoods with more than ten shootings per day.
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Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He can be contacted at: 2186604556@qq.com. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Notes

(1) https://abcnews.go.com/US/mom-shot-killed-year-son-walmart/story?id=27907997
(2) https://us.blastingnews.com/news/2018/05/school-shootings-now-averaging-more-than-one-per-week-in-the-us-002606229.html
(3) https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-na-school-shootings-since-newtown/
(4) https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/there-have-been-45-mass-shootings-in-the-us-this-year-a6676156.html
(5) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/school-shootings-since-newtown_n_5480209
(6) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/06/29/has-there-been-one-school-shooting-per-week-since-sandy-hook/
(7) https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/21/us/school-shooting-us-versus-world-trnd/index.html
(8) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/12/07/surge-in-gun-sales-after-sandy-hook-shooting-led-to-spike-in-accidental-gun-deaths-study-says/
(9) https://money.cnn.com/2018/02/15/news/companies/us-gun-sales-decline/index.html
(10) https://www.foxnews.com/politics/gun-sales-surge-after-connecticut-massacre
(11) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/worlds-largest-firearms-supplier-sells-3-half-years-worth-ar15-clips-3-days_n_2356286
(12) https://www.thetrace.org/2015/11/black-friday-gun-sales-background-checks/
(13) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-truth-about-gun-sales_b_1193498
(14) https://www.theblaze.com/news/2014/11/29/so-many-guns-were-sold-on-black-friday-that-the-fbi-was-processing-three-background-checks-every-second
(15) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/sandy-hook-shooting-gun-sales_n_2317522
(16) https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/12/17/santa-gun-kids-nfa-canada_n_6342660.html
(17) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/santa-guns_n_6366982
(18) https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/an-ex-marine-goes-on-a-killing-spree-at-the-university-of-texas
(19) https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2017/1106/Officials-examine-scene-of-Texas-mass-shooting
(20) https://www.asianage.com/world/americas/061117/at-least-26-killed-in-texas-church-shooting-youngest-aged-five.html
(21) https://www.globalresearch.ca/violence-the-american-way-of-life/5318698
(22) Huffpost; September 27, 2015; We Lost Our Daughter to a Mass Shooter and Now Owe $203,000 to His Ammo Dealer
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/lucky-gunner-lawsuit_b_8197804
(23) https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2014/08/06/a-childrens-book-for-gun-rights-my-parents-open-carry-and-beyond/
(24) https://www.amazon.com/Parents-Open-Carry-Brian-Jeffs/dp/1618081012
(25) http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/04/pro-gun-picture-book-children-my-parent-open-carry
(26) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/my-parents-open-carry-childrens-book_n_5652609
(27) https://www.ballotpedia.org/Incumbents_defeated_in_2018_congressional_elections
(28) https://www.economist.com/united-states/2012/04/21/arms-and-the-man
(29) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-many-gun-control-proposals-have-been-offered-since-2011/
(30) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nra-2016-spending_n_5a0dd3e6e4b0b17e5e14e636
(31) https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/lawmakers-nra-money/story?id=53230001
(32) https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/05/nra-spent-1point6-million-lobbying-against-expanded-background-check-laws.html
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