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An Address to the Leadership and Members of the United Methodist Church

From William B. Rogers, M.D.

Date sent: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 02:18:46 -0500
To: <>

This letter was sent by our own Dr. William B. Rogers from the Director of Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws to Frances J. Jett, Director of social programming in the United Methodist Church. Whether or not you align yourself with Christianity, the following serves to illustrate that, while not all shepherds are worth following, not all of the flock are sheep, either. Dr. Rogers' comments are interspersed between those of the text of the foundational statement made by the UMC renouncing private ownership of firearms. ~~

>From the notice at:

With the mounting proliferation of firearms in American society, the safety of our citizens cannot be guaranteed. Crime in city streets climbs, accidents abound, and suicides soar.

[This is absolutely ridiculous. Crime in city streets climbs in cities where concealed handgun permits are not issued. Significant and scientifically accurate data now demonstrate that where responsible citizens -- many of whom are Christians -- carry concealed handguns (legally!), face-to-face, violent crime is remarkably reduced. (NOTE: references for this and all other such "dogmatic" statements I offer here are available at the DSGL website:]

Christians concerned about reverence for life care about what is happening to many victims of gun murders and assaults.

[True! And for that reason, Christians concerned about reverence for life learn to protect the lives of the innocent who depend on us for quick, just, well-proportioned action. That is: many of us now carry guns, have invested thousands of dollars getting good equipment, learning to shoot accurately and effectively, and praying constantly that we don't have to do so. But God help the criminally negligent who would try to harm an innocent mother or child in the presence of one of our armed brethren!]

In the name of Christ, who came that persons might know abundant life, we call upon the Church to affirm its faith through vigorous efforts to curb gun violence.

[The most powerful method of which is to demonstrate to those who would perpetrate such violence that we, the ambassadors of Christ, will not stand idly by while they would wreak harm on those among us who are too naive or weak or otherwise unable to protect themselves.]

In 1974, the last year for which complete figures are available, there were some 32,000 firearms deaths in the United States. Of these approximately 15,000 were murders, 14,000 suicides and about 3,000 accidents. The handgun was used in the largest proportion of these death. We know, for example, that 54 percent of the murders occurring in 1974 were by handguns.

[Sir, this data is outmoded. More recent data demonstrates that most violence with handguns is perpetrated among those who are already "outside" the sphere of socially appropriate conduct. That is: most shootings occur between and among gang members and drug dealers. There are very few homicides that occur outside this group. Such incredible incidences of violence as noted at Columbine and in the church at Ft. Worth, TX, are outliers to the norm. If the teachers (or at least some of them) at Columbine had been armed and trained in the use of their arms, the killers would most likely have been stopped in their tracks after their first shots. God knows that brave teacher who died in his student's arms would have done well to have met his murderers and those of his wards with a handgun and training in how to use it. Had a few parents in the church at Ft. Worth been armed and trained in the use of their arms, he who killed and maimed their children would have been stopped. Stopped!]

Behind the statistics often lies great tragedy: children and teachers are being shot in school; depressed persons are taking their lives with guns left around the house; householders purchasing guns to protect their homes often end up using them to kill a loved one; police officers are being gunned down in increasing numbers in the course of duty.

[None of these assertions on your part are backed up with hard data. None! By claiming such, you are beneath the dignity of science, rational thinking, and the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.]

As Christians who are deeply concerned about human life, we intend to do something about the unregulated access to guns in this shooting gallery called America.

[Many of us have done something about it. In my home state of Texas, there are 210,000 adults licensed to carry concealed weapons. This is correlated with a remarkable decline in violent face-to-face crime in Texas. Compare this with Washington DC or New York, where a citizen is literally unable to own a firearm for self protection, and where the rate of homicide is so remarkably high that it gives pause to one who thinks of traveling to that part of the country.]

We do not believe there is any constitutional personal right to bear arms. As the United States Supreme Court has ruled a number of times, the Second Amendment had to do with the militia, currently comparable to the National Guard.

[No, sir. You are completely wrong about that. The "national guard" is analogous to a "standing army" that was tremendously feared and warned against by our founding fathers. The "militia" is the group of every able-bodied citizen who may be called upon to defend home and hearth. Consider the town of Kennesaw, GA, where in the late 1980's a city ordinance was passed requiring every household to have possession of a firearm. Violent crime in Kennesaw vanished. Kaput. It didn't happen. The requirement of the city fathers of that town in Georgia is most analogous to the original meaning of "militia." How dare you suggest otherwise? Do you read? Have you genuinely sought legal opinion on both sides of this argument before fomenting your dictum? I seriously doubt it!]

The United States might well learn from the experience of other societies where stringent gun control laws are enforced. The gun murder rate per 100,000 population in the United States is 100 times greater than in England and Wales, where strict gun laws prevail;

[No, sir. No longer is that true, if it ever was. The rate of violent crime in England is now skyrocketing. Check your data. England is furnishing the free world with live experiment in the detriments of "gun control." ]

We believe that the time has come when the United States should move toward a less violent and more civilized society.

[No argument. But the question is how that should be attained. An armed society, sir, is a "polite" society.]

Therefore, The United Methodist Church declares its support for the licensing of all gun owners and the registration of all firearms. Licensing provisions should require adequate identification of gun owners and provide basic standards with respect to age, absence of mental illness, and lack of a serious criminal record. These and other objective standards should be applied in determining the granting or denial of any license.

[Where do you people come up with this? Who made this decision to speak for the "entire" body of the UMC? I was never polled. The congregation to which I belong and serve was never polled. I detect an unspeakable air of hubris on the part of those of our "leadership" (should that not be "servantship"?) who would dare to speak for all of us.]

In addition, special controls should be applied to the handgun, for it is the most deadly and least utilitarian weapon in American society.

[Horsepucky! It is the most utilitarian weapon in American society when someone who is weaker and less stealthy than a violent attacker is called upon to defend his (or usually "her") life or limb. A handgun is a tool that should be carried in every pocket like a pocket knife. You would not argue that pocket knives should be abolished, or nail clippers? Then I ask you, if your daughter were being assaulted by a malignant criminal intent on first raping her and then killing her, which tool would you rather she have in her purse? A pocket knife, a fingernail clippers, or a handgun that she had been trained to use? If you answer anything less than the latter, then you are being foolishly glib, and I am certain, your daughter has never been assaulted!]

Because the handgun is concealable, it is the weapon of crime;

[No, it is the deterrent to crime. Every district in the United States that has initiated a concealed handgun program now has data demonstrating a decrease in violent crime. You do us all an incredible disservice by denying those facts.]

Because the handgun is available, it is the instrument used in suicides and crimes of passion.

[Again, no, sir. The availability of the handgun is not the factor for adjustment. The passion and the despair are to be addressed. But not the tool chosen by those who find themselves in those conditions.]

Therefore, we call upon the United States government to establish a national ban on the importation, manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns and handgun ammunition with reasonable limited exceptions. Such exceptions should be restricted to: the police, the military, licensed security guards, antique dealers who maintain guns in unfireable condition, and licensed pistol clubs where firearms are kept on the premises under secure conditions.

[ away with the Constitution? Fail to address good, scientific data proving you are wrong? What in God's name is wrong with you people?]

In fairness to handgun owners, we propose that those who comply with the law and turn in their guns be compensated at fair value through a cash payment or tax credit.

[In fairness to you, if you or your wife or children are walking one day in your local mall, and if you are assaulted by a crazed, gun-bearing criminal, I pray that either I or someone like myself who has bothered to take the time and spend the money to learn to use a handgun is close by so that we may do all that is in our power to keep you and yours from being badly hurt or killed. It is highly unlikely that the mall police will be on the scene...they usually are not, although they will be along shortly to make their official reports and to tag the bodies. But, perhaps one of "us" will be there. Maybe you will have a cell phone with you, and maybe you can call 911 and summon some help. That is good. We will need it. If you don't have a cell phone, rest assured, I will have mine. Here's the deal: I'll toss my phone to you, and you call the police and the emergency medical people for us all, ok? I'll be a little bit busy for a few minutes, so I probably won't be able to make the call just then.

[My question to you is this: would you do the same for me and my wife and children?]

"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagations of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." -- Thomas Jefferson

W.Rogers, MD
Director: Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws

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