Rev. Schenck Criticizes Falwell's Call for Pro-Gun Civil Disobedience | Sojourners

Rev. Schenck Criticizes Falwell's Call for Pro-Gun Civil Disobedience

In an interview with Tim Starnes, Jerry Falwell Jr. said he would "call for civil disobedience" if Virginia's gun control bill passes. 

Falwell said:

I’m pretty sure I’m gonna call for civil disobedience if the Democrats go through with this, and the hundred municipalities and jurisdictions who have passed resolutions to protect the Second Amendment ... I think the police officers and the populace would not be opposed to just disobeying, just like sanctuary cities in liberal states refuse to obey federal law when it comes to immigration.

Falwell’s comments came days before Gov. Ralph Northam issued a temporary ban of guns at the state Capitol building, just ahead of a gun rights rally that was planned for Jan. 20.

Northam recently reintroduced a comprehensive package aimed at gun control featuring eight separate bills that include “universal background checks; establishing an Extreme Risk Protective Order; reinstating Virginia’s One Handgun a Month law; prohibiting individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms; banning assault firearms; preventing children from accessing firearms; and requiring individuals to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.”

Falwell said he’s “never seen the populace more energized” than they are right now about the current debate about gun rights and laws.

“You don’t mess with people’s guns in this part of the state,” he said .“They [Democrats] don’t know what they’ve gotten into and they’re going to find out the hard way, I’m afraid.”

Since November, more than 100 local municipalities, counties, cities, and towns have called for their residents to become Second Amendment Sanctuary cities and oppose “unconstitutional restrictions” on guns. Falwell also told Starnes that he would not be surprised if citizens and law enforcement officers “in the good part of Virginia” decided not to enforce whatever laws are passed.

“That’s why I haven’t recommended civil disobedience yet, because I don’t know what the exact legislation is going to be,” Falwell said. “If it’s really bad, I could see supporting something like that. But I think the people are going to decide that on their own.”

Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute and Virginia resident, countered Falwell’s call for civil disobedience by reinforcing the call for Christians to practice peace and non-violence.

In a statement he said:

“Throughout American history, the overwhelming majority of calls for civil disobedience are related to strictly non-violent, peaceful, and even gracious dissent. To ensure participants don’t give into their worst impulses, many movement organizers require everyone involved to make a pledge not to use violence of any kind, whether in thought, word or deed. For Christians, this comports with what Scripture commands, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

He also referenced Falwell’s think tank, the Falkirk Center:

The Center defines its mission as training, “brave, tenacious, passionate fighters to prevail in our war to save the greatest nation on Earth.” Using this type of aggressive language, together with military metaphors, while calling for armed resistance to civil government, leads one to question Mr. Falwell’s intentions. Nowhere does he or his colleagues use “non-violence” in connection with any of this activity … By calling for passage of laws limiting handgun purchases, instituting emergency measures for temporarily removing firearms from people who pose dangers to themselves and others, and requiring universal background checks, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the state legislature is doing what is right and being sensible and helpful to vulnerable people. As for Mr. Falwell, he — and all of us — would do well to revisit the words of our only Lord and Savior in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands."

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