Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Time to Grow Up!

Gun violence prevention needs to move forward. The rate of gun violence in the United States compared to other Western developed countries, as well as the statistical human cost are beyond well documented. I urge you to look at the following sites and be overwhelmed by the statistics:

americans for responsible solutions.org

Yes, we can argue over statistics, but the above are among the best and most accurate as they coldly reveal the carnage of gun violence on steroids in our nation. Oh, now toss in stats from Harvard University, Johns Hopkins, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Center for Disease Control. Then open your newspaper. Facts and truth abound! What is a way forward?

RESPECT THE NUMBERS. Sure, bring on opposing numbers, put them and all on the table, talk and listen to all the numbers. The bottom line is that 32,000 people die of gun violence each year, with about 2/3 being suicides and the other by homicide with a small number by accident. These figures are not debatable. The USA is Number One in gun deaths among Western developed nations.

BE REAL ABOUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT. The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights because we had no real standing army, the people were afraid of an army, and the cost of an army was prohibitive. We were a young country that had struggled to fight its way to independence. There was a strong focus on individual rights.  We were a frontier nation. We needed a militia to be at the ready. Besides, forgive me, Indians were a threat, as were rebellious slaves. Guns in the possession of the people were necessary for protection and securing food. Read the first words of the Amendment: "A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state...." Yes, there is also the second half: "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Why is it that the NRA includes only the second half of the Amendment on their entryway in front of their office in Washington, DC? Let's be intellectually and Constitutionally honest.

Today, the Second Amendment has been used abused to justify free-wheeling gun possession and economic freedom for the gun manufacturers. Gone are the legitimate reasons as stated above. Now the reasons are profit, crime and paranoia. 

LET GO OF THE PARANOIA THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO COME AND TAKE AWAY YOUR FREEDOM. As fervent as many militia groups, the NRA leadership and Gun Owners of America folks stoke this paranoia on Constitutional grounds, the government also dwells in the Constitutional house. The government respects the Second Amendment as well as ALL of the Amendments. The Second Amendment is not the only Amendment which guides our democracy. How about the Preamble which states: "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare...." This is the governments main charge. Protection not persecution.

How about Amendment IX: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." ALL people have rights, not just the gun owners and gun manufacturers. We need to remember that the Declaration of Independence speaks of the "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This is for ALL citizens. Are we prepared to denigrate these hallowed words from our most sacred documents?

How about Amendment XIV which proclaims that "...any state deprive any person of life, liberty and property, without the due process of law, nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Again, ALL PEOPLE are the subject of these rights, not just the gun owners and gun manufacturers.

The Constitution permits and constrains what government and the people can and cannot do. The purpose of our government is in the entire Constitution. Government is about life, ensuring life, liberty and happiness and domestic tranquility. Government is not spelled GUN. Fealty to only the Second Amendment leads to tyranny by gun!

COMMON SENSE GUN LAWS PROTECT LIFE AND OUR DEMOCRACY. Common sense gun laws allow gun ownership for responsible gun owners. Felons, the mentally ill, domestic abusers, the under aged do not qualify. Universal background checks for licensed and private sales as well as Internet sales are reasonable, plus they dramatically lower gun deaths. It is reasonable to prevent those on the Terrorist Watch List from purchasing a weapon. Similarly, an assault weapons ban seems reasonable. Assault weapons are designed for the military, for rapid and efficient killing. Reasonable regulation ensure every one's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. No regulation opens the floodgates for anarchy and narcissistic chaos!

RESPECT THE FIRST AMENDMENT. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The free-wheeling flood of unregulated guns stifles the First Amendment. Unregulated guns create fear and deny freedom, life and happiness. Where fear dominates, death too frequently follows. Guns+fear=tyranny by gun!

The United States was founded for the purpose of FREEDOM TO LIVE, LOVE AND THRIVE! It is time to grow up, imagine life-giving honesty, and choose the ways of life for ALL.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hearing and Lobbying

I attended the hearing of two gun violence prevention (GVP) bills today. The room was packed with gun support folks wearing their maroon T-shirts and many GVP folks wearing orange.  One difference this year was there were no pro-gun supporters brandishing firearms.  They had gotten bad press so they toned it down. The hearing was billed as "informational," meaning no votes were to be taken.

The hearing was chaired by Senator Ron Latz who had introduced two bills: S.F. 2493 which advocated requiring criminal background checks for all gun purchases, including private sales. Presently, Minnesota requires BGCs only for guns purchased from a licensed dealer. Guns sold person to person, on line or from out of a car trunk are not regulated. This is the "gun show loophole." 

The other bill was S.F. 2980, legalizing a gun violence protective order. This bill would legalize a temporary restraint on a person undergoing stress from purchasing a weapon. It is a "petition for relief that the respondent poses a significant danger of bodily injury to self or other person by possessing a firearm."

Both sides of each bill were given equal time to present their case.  Several speakers addressed the senators and audience.  In addition, speakers pro and con were selected at random to also speak. The conversation was civil.  Fairness was observed. It was "respectful conversation." 

Gun bills bring out the people! It was clear that the pro-gun folks were defensive about protecting their right to bear arms because they needed to protect themselves from the possibility the government (Obama) would come and take their guns. This is another step towards tyranny. One speaker spoke of Hitler confiscating guns. They opposed both bills and shared statistics that proved in their minds the bills were not necessary. They adhered to the NRA mantra of "never give and inch" because to do so is to allow the government to creep closer to confiscating their weapons and becoming dictatorial. Suspicion and fear were dominant underlying influences for the pro-gun folks. Their arguments were ideological and statistical.

On the other hand, the GVP folks were articulate story tellers as well as statistical hounds. Their message was more personal and tragic, each relating the circumstances which resulted in the gun deaths of family or parishioners. Fear surfaced because of the threat of being shot rather than of the government or Obama coming to tyrannize. The issue was one of personal protection. 

There were contrasting views of government: birther of tyranny vs. protector, fear vs. safety, enemy vs. friend. 

I was chosen to speak in favor of the bills. I said the bills were "pro-life" in the good sense. I related the bills as being consistent with the Biblical witness of creation as God creating humankind in God's Image, that the foundational ethic of Jesus was nonviolence, and the Holy Spirit yielded the fruits of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity and self-control." I spoke of the Columbine and Charleston shooters as probably not being able to access guns if they had been required to undergo a background check. They got their guns through straw purchases.

The next step for the bills is to get them to committees for vote and then to the floor for debate and vote. This will be next year, hopefully.  I say hopefully because it depends on who controls the Senate and House.  Now the power is split and little gets done.  The Republicans will certainly prevent any of these bills from seeing the floor this year. Republicans are the most protective of gun rights, whereas the Dems tend to be considerably more open to GVP laws. I do believe GVP forces are growing in Minnesota and throughout the country.  Too many deaths.  The facts are too brazen to ignore. Also, more GVP people are showing up and speaking up. The pro-gun folks are not intimidating anymore. Not wearing their guns is a signal that they are facing strong opposition. Hope is in the air!

This GVP debate surfaces the purpose of government.  Indeed, government does have a legitimate purpose. I studied Romans 13:1-7 to understand the duty of government: to insure good conduct, to be a servant for the good of the people, and to punish the wrongdoer. Furthermore, these verses are book ended by the injunction to "love." The Preamble ot the Constitution speaks of the government "insuring domestic tranquility." The permission and call for government to do its duty is clear. Can we do it? We must for the sake of obedience to God and the care for human life.

Let the lobbying begin!


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Just War Principles
Gun Violence Prevention

Do the historical JUST WAR PRINCIPLES (JWP) contribute to the epidemic of gun violence in our nation? We usually consider JWP when addressing military actions of nation against nation. But is there a correlation between the JWP and civilian gun violence? Let's take a look.

Homicide is a last resort. The shooter believes there is no other way forward. Talk will get you nowhere. The shooter feels the other person wants to do him/her harm. Act now before the other can kill you. Kill or be killed. Similarly, I feel there is no hope, no positive reason for living so I will kill myself to relieve myself of my pain.

I am the legitimate authority. I make the rules. My gang gives me permission. I/We am/are power to myself/ourselves. I have the gun. I make the decision to kill myself. 

The shooter believes the other person has violated and injured them. The other has encroached on his/her rights and poses a threat to his/her personal way of life or to their territory. My "wrong" is that I have been created. I must rid myself so others can feel at peace. 

I can eliminate the other person or group through surprise, good tactics and adequate firepower. I know how the other person or group moves and where they occupy. I can win. A gun insures me of a 95% success rate in killing myself.

My space, my home, my turf will be peaceful when I eliminate the outside threat. The other person or group is disturbing my peace. I will cancel their menacing presence. The world, my family will be better off with me gone. I cause too much grief and unhappiness.

The other person or group wants to destroy me. They have guns or can easily gain access to a weapon. All types of weapons are available to the other person or gang. Others have done violence to me so I am going to make them pay.

It is too bad if the innocent are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I must take action when the other is vulnerable. In this way there is less chance of me being hurt. Do the action and get out. People should not hang out with the "wrong" people. I will only hurt myself.  I will not take another's life.

Do the historical JWP contribute to the epidemic of gun violence? Yes. Each principle can provide justification for gun violence. Violence occurs when reasons justify violence. Reasons are easy to create. 

I believe JWP have contributed to a culture of justified violence in all facets of life: personal, community and national, homicidal as well as suicidal. JWP have provided convenient moral reasons for violence. Hence, the entire scope of JWP needs to be called into question. The JWP are "green lights" for carnage.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Guns and Non-Conformity

Guns and Non-Conformity

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters....
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by
the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern
what is the will of God-what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2

Brothers and sisters, we have a problem. Each year in the United States, over 30,000 people die of gun violence. The United States has the highest rate of gun homicides, the highest number of guns per capita and the highest rate of deaths in high income countries. Americans murder themselves with guns at a rate 20x higher than people of other high income countries. Of those 30,000 deaths, 2/3 are suicides. In Minnesota, each year about 350 people die of gun violence, with 2/3 dying by suicide. David Hemenway of Harvard University, says that an American child is 13x more likely to be killed by a gun than in Japan, Italy or other industrialized countries. 

Abused women are 5x more likely to be killed by their abusers if there is a gun in the house. A gun in the home increases the chance of being killed by firearms by 72% or 3 times more. A gun is 22x more likely to be used in a homicide, suicide or accident than to be used in self defense. A gun in the home triples the suicide risk. Brothers and sisters, the United States, Minnesota have a problem.

Thankfully, by the grace of God, we are not powerless to address these problems. God has called us, God has transformed us, God has renewed our minds so that we may understand good, acceptable and perfect actions to work towards gun violence prevention. We are transformed in three ways: personally, theologically and politically.

PERSONALLY, my life was transformed from a gun loving kid in the 1950s to an active pacifist by the end of the 1960s. I loved guns.  I played cowboys and Indians, I was a cavalry officer, I had toy machine guns, burp guns, rubber guns. I shot birds with a Daisy Defender BB gun, and learned how to shoot a 410 shotgun and semi-automatic .22. Guns meant strength, power and authority. But then I shot my first sparrow and went home and cried. My step-father came home from a hunting trip with a deer tied to his car and announced that his hunting days were over.  He couldn't kill another beautiful animal. He sold his brand new 30-30 Winchester rifle. And then came the 60s. Civil Rights and the Vietnam War, coupled with the assassinations of JFK, Medgar Evers, MLK, Jr. and RFK tore open my soul and transformed my gun attitude.

My guess is that each of us has a gun story. Some of us hunt. Some of us sport shoot.  Some of us have a gun in our homes for protection. Some of us do not own a gun. As with Paul, I believe each of us is called and transformed to act responsibly out of honoring the safety of our families, friends, neighbors and strangers. We are called and transformed by the grace of God to be nonconformists for gun safety, for gun violence prevention. Guns can enhance life, but we must also be honest about its dangers. It is helpful for us to share our gun stories, because in the sharing we gain perspective about our true attitudes. Our stories are signs of our common humanity which bind us together and help us understand how guns factor into our relationships. Sharing our gun stories is like confession, and when there is confession there is repentance and forgiveness. There is change. There is gtransformation. We can ask ourselves: does my gun story lead me to work towards gun violence prevention? How does my story lead me to a transformed action? If not, why not?

THEOLOGICALLY, my early acceptance of the fun of guns was fueled by my learning that God loved me and forgave me.  Therefore, I was free to do what I wanted with guns. God made me feel good about myself and guns were only for play anyway. At least at first.

Amidst the chaos of the 60s, I began to read Bonhoeffer. From LIFE TOGETHER I learned that God created us to live within loving community, with disciplines of prayer, singing, study and fun. Guns were not part of the equation! Like with God was nonviolent.

From THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP I learned that "When God calls a person, God calls them to come and die." We are not called to kill each other, but to serve. Like is not about me but about WE. Then came the zinger: "We Lutherans have gathered like eagles around the carcass of cheap grace, and thereby we have drunk of the poison which has killed the life of following Christ." Cheap grace was living within ourselves, knowing we are loved and thereby free to do anything that makes us feel good about ourselves. Costly grace is living as if the ethic of love is implied within God's grace. God's grace is knowing we are loved so we can love, we can serve, we can live for others. 

From Bonhoeffer's ETHICS I learned that "We cannot experience the reality of God without the reality of the world, nor the reality of the world without the reality of God." As God engaged the world in Christ, so we are called and free to engage the world's realities by the reality of Christ. We cannot escape from the world.  To be faithful is to live in the world, to transform it that the world may reflect the Reign of God. 

I was theologically transformed from a grace-filled Sunday School faith to a faith which expanded God's grace to include responsibility for the world. As Bonhoeffer said: "We must take our share of responsibility for the shaping of the future." We must ask ourselves: Does my theology empower me to address gun violence prevention? Does my theology drive me "beyond the walls" of the congregation to address gun violence within the home and community? Is my faith broadened and transformed from a Sunday School faith to a community faith?

POLITICALLY, I was transformed from the world of ME to that of WE. My world was expanded to figure ways to unite people to work for peace, and now for gun violence prevention. Really, this is what Church is about. It is about the communion of saints, the priesthood of all believers and the Body of Christ. Ayn Rand would probably not feel very comfortable in a church. Individualism is transformed within the community of faith. We find ourselves among the fellowship. As clergy we are called to minister with the People of God, which means we must know and listen and struggle to seek together to do what is pleasing to God. This is Christian politics: the skill of uniting people to take action to accomplish the will of God. 

What can we do politically? 1) Sponsor a home gun safety course; 2) Support the Latz-Schoen criminal background check bill in the Minnesota Legislature; 3) Support the Latz Bill that legalizes a time out to prevent a person or family member from purchasing a weapon during a time of stress;
4) Attend the Protect Minnesota Lobby Day on 14 April and lobby your senators and representatives to support these bills; 5) Sponsor an ENGAGE event in your congregation to promote conversation on gun violence prevention; 6) Work within your church body to urge congregations to take specific actions. We must ask ourselves: How committed am I to take the time to be God's instrument to transform the People of God to take action to accomplish the will of God in our congregations and in the outside political world?

The ELCA has skin in this GVP game. Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters, was a baptized and confirmed ELCA youth.  Similarly, Dylan Root, the Charleston-Mother Imanuel AME Church shooter was an ELCA kid. The ELCA is not immune from responsibility to ponder what we as a church body, a congregation can do to lessen GVP and keep our kids from murder.

From MLK, Jr I learned: "We must put an end to violence or violence will put an end to us." From RFK I learned a quote from the poet Aeschylus: "Let us tame the savageness of man, and make gentle life in the world." From Bonhoeffer I learned: "Peace must be dared." And from Jesus I learned: "Enough!", "No more of this!" "Blessed are the peacemakers!"

God has come in Christ to transform us, to renew us, to not conform ourselves to the world, but instead to conform to Jesus and work for gun violence prevention. It is time!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Reign of Fear-The Triumph of Christ!

In his sermon on 15 January 1933, Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached
on Matthew 8:23-27, saying:

"...the Bible, the gospel, Christ, the church, the faith-
all are one great battle cry against fear in the lives
of human beings....Learn to recognize and understand
the hour of the storm, when you are perishing. This is the 
time when God is incredibly close to you....God wants to
be our only support."

Fifteen days later, Adolf Hitler assumed ultimate power.

Fear has risen in America and throughout the world. The causes? ISIL (Daesh), Mexicans, Syrians, Al Qaeda, African Americans, Muslims, anyone non-White, unemployment, trade deals that ship jobs overseas, the Federal Government, President Obama,  lead-filled water, police,  Black people wearing "hoodies",  and....

What are our responses? Buying guns: semi-automatics and automatics, pistols for our night stands. We live in gated communities. We demand our government spend more on the military even though we spend more than most countries in the world combined. We limit voting rights to insure that only White people can vote. We incarcerate an increasing number of people for non-violent crimes. We want to build walls to keep the poor out. We protect police actions in spite of evidence to the contrary that some are too trigger happy and cause the unjust deaths of many each year. 

We fight to not allow gay marriage. We discriminate against Muslims, calling them names and isolating them from regular social events. We damage their mosques. In Black America we burn down their churches. We create urban ghettos. We entertain ourselves with television, movie and musical violence which offers scapegoats and emotional release. We find ways to exclude those different from  Christian Whites. Narcissism is fear's black bloom. Four letter words flow as carrion crows freely fly.

Too often our theology focuses primarily on personal edification, forgiveness of sins and easy love. It is feel good, success focused and protective. Too often our church walls are fortresses for the right people, like Medieval castles surrounded by moats. Amos' words fall on deaf ears: "I take no delight in the noise of your solemn assemblies."

Thankfully, however, Bonhoeffer has it right! The Holy Bible is God's victory over fear: "Fear not for I bring you news of great joy! For to you this day is born...." Psalm 91:5 says "You will not fear the terror of the night." Christ said to one whose daughter was dead, "Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved." "There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear" says 1 John 4:18.  Giving encouragement to early Christians, the writer of Revelation writes: "Do not fear what you are about to suffer" (2:10). In Holy Baptism we are held by God, cleansed by God, graced by God, forgiven by God, welcomed into God's fellowship of faith.  No fear. welcome in!  In the Lord's Supper, ALL are welcome!  Come, receive the forgiveness of sin!  Be in fellowship! In Church we eat and drink together.  We study together.  We worship together.  We retreat together.  We serve together.  We live and work for others together.  We are not alone.  In Church we have conversations about all of life.  We debate, we pray, we argue, we seek the truth, we decide for life. We are justified by grace through faith. "...for we walk by faith, not by sight."(2 Cor. 5:7). "...you are all children of God through faith." (Gal. 3:26)

Christ has triumphed!
A bulwark never failing!
The Church's one foundation....
Have no fear, little flock!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jarring Truth

And [Jesus] said, "No prophet is accepted in
the prophet's home town."
....When they heard this, all in the synagogue
were filled with rage.  They got up, drove him 
out of the town, and led him to the brow
of the hill on which their town was built,
so that they might throw him off the cliff.
But he passed through the midst of them
and went on his way.
Luke 4:24, 28-30

Prophets of love often speak the JARRING TRUTH to their "homeys." Why? Because love "jars" the status quo. Love plows new rows, opens unexpected paths and surprises us with the unexpected. 

So it is with gun violence prevention. We hear of prophetic actions which can water the flowers of peace, but which may cause discomfort, a reorientation of thinking, risk unpopularity, affect profits, and advance disfavored laws that will equate love with safety. What are these prophetic actions?

FIRST: Insist on universal background checks for licensed dealers and private sellers, including
                        sellers who are passing guns to family members.
SECOND: Require ALL gun sellers to be licensed.
THIRD: Register ALL guns, keeping serial numbers, make and model and buyers' names on file.
                       This would allow for tracing of weapons used in crimes.
FOURTH: Require ALL gun purchasers to enroll and pass a gun safety course.
FIFTH: Prohibit sales of assault rifles.  Make them available at gun clubs.
SIXTH: Develop and market smart gun technology.
SEVENTH: Prohibit straw purchasing of weapons. A person who passes a background check
                         cannot then pass the gun on to someone who has not passed a BGCheck.
EIGHTH: Prohibit inter-state trafficking.
NINTH: Hold gun dealers accountable for the illegal sale of guns. Fine them, shut them down,
                          or send them to prison.
TENTH: Prevent those on the Terrorist Watch List from purchasing guns.
ELEVEN: Hold gun manufacturers accountable for failure to develop safe guns and for
                          illegal marketing.
TWELVE: Require that guns in home be locked up and bullets kept in a separate locked site.
THIRTEEN: Prohibit the significantly mentally ill from purchasing and owning guns.
FOURTEEN: Allow for temporary restraining orders to be filled by family or professional
                          counselors to prevent a stressed person from purchasing a weapon until
                          the time of crisis has passed. 
FIFTEEN: Disallow open-carry in public places including schools, courthouses and commercial

For many, passage of the above laws will be a "jarring" awakening, repulsed and rejected. Many will insist that their Constitutional rights are being violated. But they will create a safer gun environment.  Furthermore, hunters, sport shooters, those who want to protect home and family can still own guns. The only people affected will be the criminal, the terrorist, the significantly mentally ill, and the temporarily over-stressed person.

Who will speak the prophetic word and move to pass these safety laws? Who will insist on greater safety from guns? Who will provide gun owners with a greater level of acceptance by demanding safety laws? 

Who are the prophets? Who will risk being thrown off the cliff? Who will speak JARRING TRUTH?Is it I?


Ron Letnes

Monday, January 11, 2016

Leadership for Our Time
Psalm 72:1-4, 12-13

Prayer for Guidance and Support for the King
Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king's son.
May [he/she] judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness.
May [he/she] defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor....
For [he/she] delivers the needy when they call,
the poor and those who have no helper.
[He/She] has pity on the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence [he/she] redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in [their] sight.

Who are the RIGHTEOUS leaders for our time? RIGHTEOUSNESS can be defined as right action, fair action, life-giving, benevolence, compassion and justice.

I am committed to addressing gun violence prevention (GVP) in the nonviolent Spirit of Jesus Christ. Righteous leadership is crucial to create safety for all.

In the United States are the Constitution and other Founding Documents which guide us towards RIGHTEOUS actions on behalf of ALL. the Declaration of Independence speaks of ALL citizens having the rigtht to LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.  The Constitution speaks of ESTABLISHING JUSTICE, INSURING DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY...PROMOTING THE GENERAL WELFARE.... 

I see a correlation between the prayer of the Psalmist and phrases within our Founding Documents when it comes to helpful guidance in addressing GVP. The focus of the Psalmist and the Founding Documents is RIGHTEOUSNESS for the sake of ALL THE PEOPLE. The Psalmist focused on the People of God and the Founding Documents on the citizens of the United States. ALL! Including the most needy, the poor, oppressed, those who have no helper and vulnerable. The Psalmist wanted to ensure these were INCLUDED in the grand design of the Kingdom. Similarly, the Founding Documents sought to include ALL in the national design. 

I heard the uniting of the Psalmist and the Founding Documents expressed by President Obama last week as he spoke of executive actions he would take to address gun violence. He demonstrated RIGHTEOUS LEADERSHIP in this time consistent with the Psalmist and Founding Documents:

1. Hiring 200 new ATF agents to do background checks and inspections.
2. Increase mental health treatment resources by $500 million, as well as reporting to be
              included in background check system.
3. Stir research on smart gun technology.
4. Tighten up background checks of you want to do gun business.
5. FBI is to overhaul background check system to insure 24/7 availability.
6. FBI to hire 230 more examiners.
7. Tighten-up arms shipping to notify ATF if guns are lost or stolen.
8. Require background checks on people trying to acquire the most dangerous guns through
             trusts, corporations and other legal entities.
9. Renew domestic violence outreach to prevent domestic violence perpetrators from
            purchasing weapons.

These actions are positive steps forward.  They will save lives. They are also limited. Stronger actions are possible only with state and national legislative action. But they are RIGHTEOUS because they seek to protect the vulnerable, the poor, the oppressed, the most needy. They also protect the rights of those who should legitimately possess firearms. These actions demonstrate RIGHTEOUS LEADERSHIP for our time.


Ron Letnes