Gundamentalism

By Rachel Smith 06-30-2008

Last week's headlines blared the news: The Supreme Court has ruled that there is a constitutional right to gun ownership. I'm not surprised -- disheartened, dismayed, disappointed, yes -- but not surprised. The photo accompanying the headline was of jubilant gun rights supporters carrying signs saying "Guns Save Lives." "The Great Object: Every Man Be Armed." "If guns kill people, do pens misspell words?"

And that's the real problem with gundamentalism (and I do see this ruling as an offshoot of gundamentalism). Its adherents believe that nothing is as important as the right to own a gun. Or many guns. Or many kinds of guns. The fact that 30,000 people a year, 80 a day, are killed by guns is not nearly as important as the right to own a gun. The day before the Supreme Court announced its decision, a worker in a Kentucky plastics plant shot and killed himself after shooting five coworkers and wounding a sixth.

What are the responsibilities that go along with this newly bestowed right? The Court's ruling does make room for sensible gun control. But as people of faith we must ask deeper and more difficult questions: Where do we place our trust -- in God or in guns? Who do we serve -- God or the second amendment? Where do we find our sense of worth and purpose -- from God or from guns? How do we bring about God's reign - with an open heart or with a gun in hand?

Rev. Rachel Smith is the founder of the God Not Guns faith outreach project of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

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