Lines in the Sand: Guns and Refugees

dmitry-ratushny-64773-unsplashBack in February, while flipping through Facebook, I clicked on a World Relief video about immigration and an article by Brene Brown on gun control. The first demonstrated what the second described – a line in sand mentality that cuts off the possibility of productive discussion of either topic. It’s too bad, because both of those issues could use some honest dialogue.

I drafted this post two months ago and never published it, but I am now because the topics are still in the news and the lines in the sand are becoming more entrenched.

World Relief serves refugees and immigrants, and I am in full support the work that they do. We participated in a new neighbor program with a refugee family several years ago, and now that my husband works for World Relief I am even more aware of the challenges that refugees faced both in their home countries and in the United States.

The number of incoming refugees is about half of what it was two years ago, and with growing anti-immigrant sentiment and the pitiful non-action on DACA the number could go even lower.

Comments on the World Relief video were both positive and negative. The negative responses, while civil, questioned the appropriateness of the scripture used, the need for immigrants to follow the law, and some of them went into political territory. The line in the sand is clear: let everyone in or let no one in.

The article by Brene Brown describes her childhood in a gun-owning hunting family, her respect for gun ownership, and her support for extensive background checks and outlawing the sale of automatic weapons. She also describes her interaction with an individual who drew a line in the sand: you’re either pro-NRA and for all guns or anti-NRA and against all guns.

Brown, in a discussion of such false dichotomies writes,

One of the biggest sources of bullshit today is the proliferation of “If you’re this then you’re automatically that” and “You’re either with us or you’re against us” politics. These are emotional lines that we hear invoked by everyone from elected officials and lobbyists to movie heroes and villains on a regular basis. They’re effective political moves; however, 95 percent of the time it’s an emotional and passionate rendering of bullshit.

Perhaps these lines are why it is becoming harder for me to identify with a political party. In general, I favor government that does it’s job to keep US citizens safe, to make and enforce reasonable laws, and administer necessary, emphasis on necessary, programs. I am solidly pro-life. This, plus a less is more approach toward government means that I have most often, but not always, voted for Republicans.

However, I take a decidedly un-Republican position on guns and immigration.

I have never fired a gun, and don’t plan to, but I know there are many people who have and the 2nd amendment protects their right to do so. Fine. However, I don’t understand why we can’t outlaw automatic weapons and require more careful background checks.

Neither do I understand the rise in fear, protectionism, and anti-immigrant attitudes in this country. More puzzling to me is Christian agreement with such attitudes. Refugees are some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and if we can help a few more, which we surely can, then we should.

Line in the sand politics removes real people from the controversy. People who are dealing with unimaginable death of their loved ones in pointless gun violence and people who are stuck in refugee limbo or wondering if their legal status in the United States will be erased deserve to be considered.

Their lives are far more important than lines in the sand.

Is anyone else frustrated with this?

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

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