Sunday, March 17, 2013

MCC on the NRA Enemy List

Folks at the Mennonite Central Committee, a world relief and development agency based in Akron, Pennsylvania, were surprised recently by seeing a Mother Jones article listing them as one of 140 organizations the National Rifle Association considers a threat to their defense of Second Amendment rights.

As someone who grew up in a rural Mennonite and Amish community where guns were used regularly for hunting, butchering and "varmint" control, I was mildly amused. According to an article by Kelli Yoder in the February 18 Mennonite World Review, the NRA had apparently carried the MCC name over from an earlier list it had compiled in 2003.

For purposes of comparison, MCC describes itself as a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist/Mennonite  churches that "shares God's love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice. MCC envisions communities worldwide in right relationship with God, one another and creation."

It has an annual budget of some $50 million.

The NRA, which supposedly promotes gun rights and gun safety, but mainly focuses on resisting any regulation of firearms whatever, has a budget of nearly five times that amount, none of which is invested in helping the needy.

It's true that East Coast MCC did support a modest gun violence prevention and education tour last year, but its impact was miniscule, I'm sure, compared to the contrary efforts of the NRA to fight all forms of gun control legislation.

This in spite of the fact that even President Reagan, in 1989, said, “I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen [to own guns] for sporting, for hunting, and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47 or a machine gun are not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home."

In a recent issue of the Mennonite World Review, columnist Ryan Rodrick Beiler points out that "Israeli law restricts private gun ownership more than the NRA could likely stomach: long waits, training requirements, mental and physical health checks and shooting exams — all for only one pistol and a lifetime supply of 50 bullets and a permit requiring renewal every three years. Most guns therefore are carried by Israeli soldiers and the few civilians, as The Jerusalem Post reports, 'where the state has an interest in them being armed'.”

Even the most reasonable restrictions may be impossible to pass in today's NRA dominated political climate. The organization is heavily funded by gun manufacturers who are working harder than ever to improve their bottom line, and have the lobbying power to influence politicians accordingly. After all, guns tend to last a long time, so gun makers and marketers have to keep raising new fears and inventing new reasons why we should all buy more of their deadly products.

The NRA has become a well funded tool for promoting this kind of paranoia. I'm glad their MCC "enemy" has a message more more in keeping with that of Jesus, who said, "Put your weapon away. Those who take up the sword will die by the sword."

Here's an interesting link to some analysis by Rachel Maddow.

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