Guns in churches are “dangerous, and it’s bad theology.”
This isn’t a line from Mamet or Voltaire or Sartre. It isn’t from Dr. Seuss. This isn’t from a sharp satire of the nature of organized religion or absurdist tale warning of the proliferation of guns.
If only it was.
This is a statement from a spokesman from for Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, quoted in the Los Angeles Times last week, in reaction to a bill passed by the Georgia legislator that would, among other things, allow licensed gun owners to take weapons into houses of worship if the church allows it, into bars unless the owner objects, into airports up to screening areas and into government buildings except past security checkpoints, as wall as permit schools to arm staff members.
Critics call the bill, officially named the Safe Carry Protection Act, the “guns everywhere bill,” and the National Rifle Association is just fine with that, crowing that its passage is a “historic victory for the Second Amendment.” Governor Nathan Deal, who has an A rating from the NRA and is up for reelection, is expected to sign it, making it go into effect July 1. The bill was also supported by his Democratic opponent, state Senator Jason Carter, who is, of all things, former President Carter’s grandson.
Never mind that police are concerned, with Garden City Police Chief David Lyons saying, “We’re going to go to Hooters now expecting that everybody in there has a gun.” Never mind that “opponents say they shudder at the thought of armed citizens attending city council meetings, at which emotions run high.” (Not to mention bars.)
Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, points out that this bill would make Georgia the 27th state to allow licensed gun owners to take bring weapons into bars. Moreover, after the Connecticut school massacre and other high profile shootings, many states, instead of clamping down on guns, are taking the NRA’s advice and expanding their gun laws. Public support for stricter gun laws dropped to 31% from 38% a year earlier, shortly after the Connecticut school shooting, and Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor who has written extensively about the politics surrounding guns, points out that the Georgia legislation “shows how strong the NRA is in some parts of the country. They’ve defeated so many gun laws that ending bans on guns in bars and churches is all that left.”
(It is interesting to note that, while Catholic and Episcopalian bishops appear to be against allowing guns in their churches, “Georgia Baptists,” according to Georgia Baptist Convention public affairs representative Mike Griffin, “are not saying they’re for or against weapons being in churches. What they’re saying is churches should have the right to determine if they choose to have weapons.”)
Meanwhile, there was an article in the Times late last year about how the Columbine High School shootings still cast a shadow 15 years later, with many schools having drills, like those for earthquakes and nuclear attacks, to prepare for gunfire. One mother, Kay Cates, was quoted as saying, “It struck me that this is now just a part of him life. I think about how my children are going to grow up and think this is a normal part of school.” She said this after her 10-year-old son answered her question about what he had done at school one day by answering with a shrug, “We did math. We did reading. We did a lock-down.”
God help us. That is, if God hasn’t been taken in - bought out - by the NRA.