Dear Gun Advocates,

city new york statue of liberty usa
Photo by Pixabay on

Dear Gun Advocates,

I know many of you, and I want you to know that I love you.  But I do not trust you.  Please understand that I do not think you are bad people; I know you are not.  I just don’t trust what having lethal force in your hands has meant to the United States and what it means in this world going forward.  Whether it is police who have all-too-human or blatantly racist biases or “good guys” who pull the trigger, stray bullets from gang violence or someone who is genuinely “mentally ill” or just very sad one day…I don’t trust you.  I can’t afford to take that chance any longer, and neither can you.

Guns for defense against other human beings have always been tools of oppression and cultural division in the United States.  Guns are directly linked to the most shame filled episodes of race, class and gender hatred in our shared history. Native people, African slaves, women, the Chinese, the poor (and now Latin-x immigrants) have all been at times legally obstructed from gun ownership and/or literally used as targets in the wake of those restrictions.

Today’s mass shooting epidemic is also racialized and gendered by how the vast majority of the crimes in the last 35 years have been committed by white men.  The pattern is too stark to ignore and it chills this African American to his core.  Gun advocates, I do not trust you with my safety and if suicide statistics are any indication (particularly among white men), you shouldn’t either.

As a faith leader, my respect for the unique human relationship to our consciousness of life and death tells me we have no need for guns.  Trusting any human being with weapons of mass destruction in the back of their pick-up truck or sitting in the front seat of their Prius is careless disregard for the awesome power of life and living that we possess. Our bodies are born into this world as sacred gifts not as pawns in an asinine political game of brinkmanship.

And where is the common sense?

Our national military is bigger than the next seven militaries in the world combined.

We have more guns than people.

No one dies more than once.

This is not defense.  This is not ordained by God.  This is not a “right.” This is fear. This is protracted self-harm. This is destroying everyone.

Gun advocates, I love you and my soul aches to define you by an instrument of death, but I do not trust you, even though we both say we love liberty.  Sadly, you’ve forgotten that in order to have liberty, we must first have life.

– Rev. Adam Lawrence Dyer


Repeal and Replace

brown and gray rifles lined up
Photo by Pixabay on

Too often the power of the US Constitution has not come from what it actually says but rather from the underlying perspectives and assumptions that were made by its 18th Century authors:

  • White men are superior to all other beings.
  • Women are invisible and subject to the whim of (free white) men.
  • Blacks are not fully human.
  • Indians are savage and only marginally redeemable.
  • Human sexuality is Biblical before it is biological.
  • Poverty is a failure of human will.

Assumptions like this come from the perspectives of “founding fathers” who wished to enshrine in government their priorities and goals based on their specific world view.  Any investigation of the United States Constitution offers a great deal to question and interrogate.  Part of that interrogation must also acknowledge that the Constitution is not entirely hopeless.  In it, we have an instrument of government that has a built-in capacity for the “do-over.”  We have the tools to fix things and do things right. 13th & 14th Amendments, 19th Amendment, 21st Amendment, etc.  It is essential that we now take advantage of this feature and move to repeal and replace…the 2nd Amendment.

We are currently living in a world where it takes only 30 seconds to kill 8 people.  When the 2nd Amendment was ratified in 1791, a standard rifle such as the Brown Bess could only fire six rounds in a minute when fired by a professional.  The first standing army was established that same year (to quell Indian revolts) and only white men could legally possess arms.  The 2nd Amendment secured access to the lethal power of guns in the 18th Century as a “right” for a specific purpose, time and a limited population.  But today it has become the foundation for extreme ideology that is toxic and publicly lethal on a mass scale.

With the incredible advances in weaponry both for hunting and for warfare, any rational being can recognize the necessity to revisit the laws governing the ability to carry and use deadly force. Outside of the contentious question about whether there should be deadly force in the hands of civilians in the first place, what if we were able to have an amendment that used language such as this:

All people within the United States, have the right to personal defense by means of reasonable force so as to limit the threat to personal injury.  Equal are the rights of all persons to exist without the threat of lethal force to their personal death or injury, either by accident, exposure to circumstances or perceived threat to others.

A modern 2nd Amendment will recognize that weaponry for hunting and survival (though I may personally disagree with it) is a way of sustainable life for many people in this nation.  It will also acknowledge the right one has to defend themselves if they are properly trained and vetted to respond to threat.  But it will also recognize that easy access to military grade weapons has created a national health and public safety crisis that is fueled by ideological perversions that leave all of us unsafe.

Legislators and language in our government that defend death by suicide, mass shootings, domestic violence and race hatred creates an environment where these tragedies are not just tolerated but expected.  This is counter to everything the US Constitution stands for.  We must rethink the 2nd Amendment…repeal and replace.  We deserve to be much more than the land of the feared and the home of the dead.