Youth ministry programs

Gun Control: An Analysis

The Challenge that Separates Us

Table of Contents: in order of Appearance on this page

  • Introduction ... Published February 15, 2018
  • Students Call Out: Make America Safe Again ...Published February 20, 2018
  • The Australian Model ... Published February 16, 2018
  • My Expert Award from the NRA ... Published February 19, 2018
  • Historical Look at the Second Amendment ... Published February 22, 2018

  • March 5, 2018

    What Would Jesus Say about Gun Control?

    As a Christian youth group website, the logical question to ask is: what would Jesus say about the need for Gun Control if he were to return to earth to share his view. Since there was nothing even remotely similar to a handgun, much less, an assault weapon like the AK-15 in Jesus' time, I did not anticipate finding much from the gospels.

    I was surprised after doing a careful screening of the statements of Jesus. It is important to see the statements in the context in which they were made. Three statements can be identified and the answer to what Jesus would probably say must be taken considering all three.

    Mark 12:17 "And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marveled at him." The statement comes in reply to the question, "Should we pay taxes to Caesar?"

    Discussion: If we take the story and subsequent statement for what it literally states, it appears that Jesus is directing citizens to recognize the rule of their leaders . The leader, Caesar, was God-like to the Romans whom occupied Israel at the time. Jesus references him first but then states afterwards, to 'give to God the things that are God's'. The established rules of the day are important but more important is the guidance of God. Throughout his teachings, Jesus refers to the Jewish Law and then states that is all summed up in a simple commandment "Love God with all your heart, soul and mind and then love others as you love yourself."

    If we substitute the Constitution of the United States for Caesar, Jesus would today begin a discussion of Gun Control by stating that Christians should respect the laws of our land which included the first and second amendments. However, he would likely add, as long as the laws and regulations do not contradict the two commandments summing up all of the laws of the land: to love God and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

    Matthew 26:52: Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword".

    Discussion: The context is the evening of Jesus's betrayal. The last meal has occurred and Jesus and his disciples are now at the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus has poured his heart out to his Father "Not my will but thine be done". The Jewish leaders, accompanied by Roman soldiers, to arrest him and Peter draws a sword in defense of Jesus. He even cuts off the ear of a servant and Jesus tells him to put his sword down. If there would ever be a moment to raise a sword or, in today's vernacular, pull out a gun, would this not be that circumstance? Yet Jesus directs Peter to put down his sword for those who fight by the sword will die by the sword.

    Given these instruction to Peter, would it be likely that Jesus would say, if here today, "the country that lives by the firearms will die by the firearms?"

    Jesus taught that there were better ways to deal with violence stressing the role of the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) identifying the peacemakers as the children of God.

    Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries. A new study published Feb. 1, 2018 in The American Journal of Medicine states:

    "Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States' gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher. And, even though the United States' suicide rate is similar to other countries, the nation's gun-related suicide rate is eight times higher than other high-income countries" Overall, our results show that the U.S., which has the most firearms per capita in the world, suffers disproportionately from firearms compared with other high-income countries," said study author Erin Grinshteyn, an assistant professor at the School of Community Health Science at the University of Nevada-Reno. "These results are consistent with the hypothesis that our firearms are killing us rather than protecting us," she said in a journal news release. These results are also consistent with the admonition of Jesus to Peter, "Those who take the sword will perish by the sword".

    Luke 22:35-38 And he said to them, "When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?" They said, "Nothing." He said to them, "But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors.' For what is written about me has its fulfillment." And they said, "Look, Lord, here are two swords." And he said to them, "It is enough."

    Discussion: The context is a short time after the last supper and before Jesus' betrayal. Jesus, who tells Peter not to take the offensive when the Jews come to arrest him, earlier states that it is wise to have a sword and alright to have two swords but two swords is enough to defend oneself. It is interesting that, after preparing his disciples to protect themselves, he advises Peter not defend himself.

    The important segment of Christ's remarks is the admonition-two swords is enough. No more are necessary. Perhaps in today's lingo: a pistol to protect is fine but an assault weapon in the hands of a private citizen is way too much.

    Conclusion: Jesus recognizes the authority of the Second Amendment but would challenge the way it is being interpreted as an open door for the purchase of such a wide range of dangerous weapons.

    His life and ministry would teach that there are other ways to address this problem which are not only more effective but also more God-like meeting the two great commandments "To love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and your mind. The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

    His recognition of the peacemakers as being "the children of God" would call policymakers to find non-confrontational ways of handling these problems.

    March 2,2018

    President Trump's Nine Point Gun Control Plan

    1. Draft and pass comprehensive gun control legislation that would expand background checks to weapons purchased at gun shows and on the internet.

    2. Keep guns from mentally ill people

    3. Secure schools

    4. Restrict gun sales for some young adults.

    5. Suggest a conversation on an assault weapons ban.

    6. Law enforcement authorities should have the power to seize guns from mentally ill people or others who could present a danger without first going to court.

    7. "I like taking the guns early," the President stated, "Take the guns first, go through due process second."

    8. Promised he will take action to do away with bump stocks

    9. Suggested the revival of a bipartisan bill drafted in 2013 by Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    These are important starting points and our political leaders need reminders to move forward on these.We will track them over time, recognizing that these are general targets of change which need details as to how to implement them.

    Coming next week:

  • What about bump fire stocks? The American public was promised action last fall. What happened? Will the Trump administration follow through on promises to create an executive order? We hope so. We will wait before discussing to give the administration the opportunity to act.
  • As a retired Social Worker of 42 years I have been asked by a reader of this website to comment on the situation from a social worker's vantage point. This will be published early next week.
  • Perhaps the most important of all - what do we , the public, do about this? How do we continue the momentum begun by the students of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School?

  • Introduction: Published February 15, 2018

    We are all reading the debate over gun control spurred on by the horrific murder of seventeen innocent people in Florida Keys. Beginning tomorrow we will be issuing a brief two day report on this matter. Included is a synopsis of the Australian model of gun control including first hand impressions received.

    Our second report will offer some suggested courses of action for each of us to take. We want to make these posts as brief as possible, hence the issuance on consecutive days.

  • What the Founding Founders intended the Second Amendment to protect.
  • What was this weapon ( an AR-15 Rifle) that was used noting the fact that stocks for the company that manufactures the rifle closed up 1.49% the day after the shooting netting the company an 8.8 million dollar profit!
  • Reflections of a marksman with a rating of "Expert" by the NRA.
  • What does the President's statement "Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to the authorities again and again" actually suggest? Is this a subtle yet clear statement of "Blaming the Victim"? How were students going in and out of classes on a normal day of school supposed to know that this horrific act was forthcoming that day?
  • What about the uproar over bump fire stocks? What are bump stocks? What happened to the universal agreement, after the Las Vegas shootings, that they should be banned?

  • Is there any hope that the United States will finally catch up to the rest of the civilized world and enact some type of gun control? Our answer to this question will be, "Yes". The American public needs to know that our politicians will take action in the near future to establish a research group including:

  • Non-partisan researchers knowledgeable in the arena of gun control
  • Hopefully bureaucrats that represent the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others, who oppose restrictions on firearm purchase and ownership.
  • Gun Control Advocates
  • Its task will be to look at all data and models in other countries and deliver a timely report on how to enact appropriate gun-control legislation.

    Read positive stories of hope and trust that better times are ahead at our Hope Page.

    Click The Hope Page

    March 7,2018

    On March 6, 2018 the State of Washington joined the states of New Jersey and Massachusettes in banning bump sticks. Mr. President, you have stated on two occasions that you would do the same by means of an executive order. When will you act?


    The Australian Model Published February 16, 2018

    Last fall my wife, Linda Ferguson, and I went on a cruise leaving Honalulu, Hawaii, travelling to French Polynesia, New Zealand and ending in Australia. Due to the fact that it ended in Australia, we met many Australians, who were guests on the ship. They had many questions about America (or "The States" as we were known).

    On two occasions I spoke with Australian small business owners, conservative in their economic outlook. If living in the United States, they would most likely support the policies of the Republican Party. However, they both had strong, positive feelings about the enacted gun laws now on the books over twenty years.

    One of the questions Australians posed to us was their amazement that America had no gun control laws. This was a current topic as the murder of 58 people (with 851 wounded) in Las Vegas had just occurred, two weeks into our 18 day cruise. The topic could not have been avoided.

    Australians shared with us that in the mid 1990s there was a horrific shooting in their country. In response the government moved quickly to enact gun control laws and that, since the inaction of the laws twenty years ago, there had been no shootings such as the ones that had just occurred in Las Vegas. The news of the Las Vegas event was sobering as we were leaving French Polynesia and approaching the islands of New Zealand.

    We were unable to answer the question why America had no gun laws, except to say that it was politically dangerous for some candidates to challenge a prevailing opinion of some that Americans have a Constitution that permits gun ownership. The Australians replied, "But what about firearms built for mass destruction?" We had no adequate answer. Now, on Valentines Day we have another horrific shooting amongst the most innocent of people , our children. The response of grief has again energized the gun control movement. So let's look at the Australian Gun Control Law as objectively as possible. Would it be successful in reducing Gun Violence in America?

    " In response the government moved quickly to enact gun control laws and that, since the inaction of the laws twenty years ago, there had been no shootings such as the ones that had just occurred in Las Vegas."

    What is this Gun Control Law?

    The NFA(National Firearms Agreement) placed tight control on semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons. It did permit their use by licensed individuals who required them for a purpose other than 'personal protection'. The act included a gun buy-back provision.

    How does this work?

    The Agreement established six categories of firearms in order to evaluate the danger each type weapon possesses.

    The Agreement includes a number of provisions. It was agreed to establish a temporary firearm buyback program for firearms that were once legal and now determined to be illegal. Accordingly the Council on Foreign Relations bought over 650,000 firearms. This program, which cost $230 million, was paid for by an increase in the country's taxes.

    The law created a national firearm registry, a 28-day waiting period for firearm sales, and tightened firearm licensing rules. The law requires anyone wishing to possess or use a firearm, with some exceptions, be over the age of 12. Owners must be at least 18 years of age, have secure storage for their firearms and provide a "genuine reason" for doing so.

    Studies (There were many and below are a few examples):

    There are many. Some were general in nature arguing that the law did not fully accomplish what it attended. Some studies stated that the method of evaluating was faulty and, thus, the conclusions reached were suspect. The majority came out with a positive finding that gun violence, though not eradicated, was diminished.

  • In 2003, researchers from the Monash University Accident Research Centre examined firearm deaths and mortality in the years before and after firearm regulation. They concluded that there was "dramatic" reduction in firearm deaths and especially suicides due to "the implementation of strong regulatory reform".
  • A study coauthored by Simon Chapman concluded: "Australia's 1996 gun law reforms were followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings, and accelerated declines in firearm deaths, particularly suicides. Total homicide rates followed the same pattern. Removing large numbers of rapid-firing firearms from civilians may be an effective way of reducing mass shootings, firearm homicides and firearm suicides.
  • David Hemenway and Mary Vriniotis of Harvard University, funded by the Joyce Foundation, summarized the research in 2011 and concluded; "it would have been difficult to imagine more compelling future evidence of a beneficial effect." They said that a complication in evaluating the effect of the NFA was that gun deaths were falling in the early 1990s. They added that everyone should be pleased with the "immediate, and continuing, reduction" in firearm suicide and firearm homicide following the NFA.
  • In 2016 a study by Adam Lankford, associate professor of criminal justice, examined the links between public mass shootings and gun availability in various countries. He found that the restrictions in Australia were effective, concluding that "in the wake of these policies, Australia has yet to experience another public mass shooting.
  • A most compelling evidence for the effectiveness of the Australian Gun Control Laws is the support of the Australian people who even had their taxes raised in order to effectively enact the legislation.

    Coming Soon

    Coming soon we will publish an evaluation of the American model of gun control (or lack thereof) including: **********************************************************************************************************************************

    My Expert Award from the NRA Published February 19, 2018

    I have read the "Rants of Rage" taking over the internet on the Gun Control issue. There are the people calling for voters to reject anyone taking a donation from the N.R.A. and there are the gun owners who cry out "How dare you?" Beyond these rants are the poignant calls from the students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and the parents from Sandy Hook School in Connecticut who call out "When will you act?"

    So here is my story, actually my letter to Wayne LoPierre, the CEO of the National Rifle Association.

    Dear Mr. Lopierre,

    I Can't Stop Loving You by Ray Charles was the number one song in America when I picked up a .22 rifle for the first time in a Maine summer camp. I was, at best, an average athlete, playing third base a few months earlier for my ninth grade team. I don't recall my batting average but probably hit about .250 for the season and avoided making too many errors on balls hit to me. I was very, very average.

    When I stepped onto that rifle range I expected, like everything else, an average performance. But I was pleasantly surprised. I was initially advised that there were, I believe, sixteen marksman awards to be achieved from "novice" to "distinguished". We had to learn to shoot prone (lying on ones stomach), sitting, kneeling and standing. We shot at a target about one inch thick from fifty feet away and, as our skills progressed, the one inch target would become a half inch target.

    We were advised that, if we attained between rankings seven to ten, we would accomplish a lot that summer. Yet here I was ... three weeks to go in an eight week summer camp and I was working on award fifteen out of sixteen, that of an expert marksman. I had to hit, I believe it was, six targets at each position (total of 24) with a score of all five shots being in the small, one half inch circle. Five out of five was very difficult and no one else in camp was working on their expert award.

    How did I do it? I was an average and near sighted athlete. My instructor told me it was my calm demeanor and my soft, careful and slow touch on the trigger when firing. So with a week to go in the season I had made about a half of those required targets for Expert and we were only allowed one half hour of shooting three times a week. It had taken me two weeks to get the first half completed.

    No one thought I would make it but then there was this one morning. I don't know how I did it but my soft touch was a bit softer and I felt a calmness take over me. Every attempt I made resulted in the expert level score and I was within a target or two of meeting my requirements.

    Well, I did make it on the last day and a few months later I received that expert reward, a pin the size of the target I had to hit in five out of five attempts, six times in each of the four positions.

    A few weeks after my accomplishment we were watching a movie about the Revolutionary war at home. I remember watching the soldiers fighting. They would fire then have to reload, first stuffing the ball into the barrel of their musket then the powder. I remember thinking how far technology had come. I could fill my .22 rifle with five or six shells in about fifteen seconds and shoot them off probably every five seconds compared to what seemed to be an eternity for the Patriot soldiers as they reloaded and attempted to avoid enemy fire at the same time.

    Now fifty-six years have passed since I obtained that Expert Award. I could perhaps fire seven or eight shots in a minute with a .22 rifle but that would be without the soft, accurate approach that allowed me to obtain that award. When shooting at that speed I would be fortunate to hit the larger, one inch target at all. Revolutionary war soldiers took 20 seconds to prepare one ball to fire at an enemy. That is three shots per minute.

    The 19 year old young man, who was responsible for those seventeen deaths in Parkland, Florida used an ArmaLite (A-15) Rifle. So did the young man, who murdered so many young children and their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School several years ago.

    My research states that the AR-15 can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute depending on the skill of the operator. The shooter was on a rifle team at school.

    Mr. Lopierre ... I have kept only one award, received during my high school and college years . It is my Expert Rifle Award pin. I will gladly return it to the NRA in return for support from your organization to create a compromised approach to firearm purchases in order to protect innocent people, including school children from harm.

    I do not advocate taking away all firearms but why does anyone outside of the military and law enforcement need to have a weapon like the AR-15 in their home and available to be used at an unforeseen and uncontrollable moment of anger?

    I was a marksman who truly enjoyed one summer of shooting success. I have been told that the AR-15 is used in hunting? I do not hunt but I do know that the discipline I learned shooting a .22 rifle , that of carefully setting my position while shooting, holding my breath, softly pulling the trigger to not jerk the rifle off of the target ... that was sport.

    " Is shooting a bullet once per second at an animal the same type of sport? Or is it slaughter?"
    Is shooting a bullet once per second at an animal the same type of sport? Or is it slaughter?

    We need to find some answers and I again offer to give up my cherished badge if you will commit to participate in finding a gun control solution. Without one I fear for the future of our country.


    Tim Ferguson


    Historical Look at the Second Amendment Published February 22, 2018

    History Before the Second Amendment

    "Though still British subjects, colonial Americans considered the right to bear arms as necessary for fulfilling their natural right to defend themselves and their property. In the midst of the American Revolution, the rights that would later be expressed in the Second Amendment were being explicitly included in early state constitutions. The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, for example, stated that 'the people have a right to bear arms for the defence(sic) of themselves and the state'." (From ThoughtCo, "The History of Gun Rights in America ")

    "Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence ...from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable ... the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good." (George Washington)

    "The best we can help for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." (Alexander Hamilton)

    "And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the Press, or the rights of Conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms;" (Samuel Adams)


    George Washington speaks strongly about the right to bear arms "to ensure peace, security and happiness". Alexander Hamilton calls for people to be properly armed while Samuel Adams stated, that the Constitution is not to be interpreted "to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms".

    All three founding father's support the right to keep "arms" but there are conditions of when this is appropriate.

    Combining the three statements as one: the intention of our Founding Fathers was for peaceable citizens to have the right to bear arms to ensure their "peace, security and happiness". Are guns such as the AR-15 needed to accomplish such a goal?

    The interpretation of the Second Amendment should be done in relation to the other amendments of its day, most specifically the First Amendment, which allows citizen's to choose their own religious beliefs. It does not retrict these beliefs to only "Christian" beliefs and opens the door to citizen's setting their own standards regarding the use of guns within America.

    What do you think? See blog post entitled "Gun Control: An Analysis". Click: Gun Control Changes Needed? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------