The Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, a Baltimore pastor and a leader among civic activists here, has joined a campaign to work around the NRA-fearing Congress on the country’s gun madness. If neither the House nor Senate will stand up to the National Rifle Association and enact some sensible measures, Connors says, the federal government still has power to achieve progress on that front -- and it starts with the bottom line.
The federal government buys a lot of guns for the military. It can use that as leverage to get firearms manufacturers to produce more high-tech “smart guns” and to stop selling guns to disreputable dealers. State and local governments can get into the act, too, because of their cumulative purchasing power.
“Frankly, many of us are tired of President Obama coming out and whining about not being able to get anything done legislatively when there are other options,” says Connors, pastor of Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church and co-chair of Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development (BUILD).
Connors is one of my lead guests on the next Roughly Speaking podcast (Episode 24, Dec. 7).
He signed on with Do Not Stand Idly By, a campaign of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a Washington-based network of faith and civic leaders. The campaign has two premises: Gun manufacturers need to make public safety and responsible sales their highest priorities, and the companies that do so will find a growing demand for safety and increased sales to major public-sector buyers.
The campaign wants manufacturers to embrace “smart gun” technology, which allows only authorized users to fire guns, reducing the risk of theft as well as injury or death to children. And the campaign envisions a “first-rate network of dealers that meet high standards of security, record keeping and cooperation with law enforcement.” Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York supports the idea as a way for President Obama to work around Congress, where firearms legislation goes to die.
“It’s time for the leading gun manufacturers to sever ties with the nation’s most irresponsible gun dealers,” said the Rev. Getulio Cruz, pastor of Monte Sion Christian Church in New York and a leader in Metro IAF. “And it’s time for the federal agencies that buy guns from those manufacturers to use their clout in the marketplace to demand that they do so.”
You can read more about the campaign on the Do Not Stand Idly By web site.
Connors is on Monday’s podcast along with Firmin DeBrabander, professor of philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art and author of a good book on guns and democracy. DeBrabander also wrote this op-ed about Catholic leaders and firearms for The Sun last month.