Religion and gun control

Tomorrow (Feb. 4) is Interfaith Call-in Day to Prevent Gun Violence. It’s not entirely clear to me who is spearheading this initiative–it has a very simple website, at faithscalling.org–but my guess would be Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. That group has publicly called on Congress to support universal criminal background checks for all gun purchases, a ban on high-capacity weapons for civilians, and criminalization of unlicensed gun trafficking. Their letter to Congress is accompanied by several pages of signatories, representing Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh organizations. (I didn’t see any Buddhists, a striking omission.)

As soon as I heard about this initiative, I was intrigued to know what kind of religious mobilization may be occurring on the other side of the issue. The NRA website wasn’t acknowledging the Interfaith Call-in Day, at least not that I could see when I visited today; nor did I find any kind of “Voices of Faith” showcase in favor of gun rights. This press release from the National Association of Evangelicals reports that nearly 3/4 of respondents to a December survey of evangelical leaders favored increased government gun regulations. (The press release didn’t specify what regulations were favored.) Richard Land, speaking for the Southern Baptist Convention, issued a public letter to Barack Obama on the same day as Faiths United’s letter to Congress, supporting two of the recommendations made by Faiths United (universal criminal background checks and criminalization of unlicensed gun trafficking; he didn’t support the high-capacity weapons ban, and he advocated regional variation in gun control measures).

This is to say that in places where I might have expected to see religious mobilization occurring on behalf of gun rights [my use of that term is meant to be neutral]–I’m not seeing it. I’m sure I could find religious pro-gun voices (conservative Christian voices, specifically) by casting a broader net online; but in terms of high media profile, religious anti-gun voices seem to be dominant.

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