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