Who would Jesus shoot?

Remarks by Steve Friesen at Gun-Free UT rally on  24 August 2016

We’ve heard about different aspects of the weaponized campus problem—public safety issues, political issues, insecure masculinity issues. But most discussions downplay—or ignore!—the religious aspects of this controversy.

The major players in favor of guns in classrooms are all outspoken white male conservative Christians—all men, all white, all Christian.

There’s Brian Birdwell, author of the law, state senator from Granbury, and lifelong white guy.  What does he say about gun rights? Birdwell says they are “Rights that are granted by God…”

Or Jonathan Stickland, state representative from Bedford. Stickland says, “The Second Amendment doesn’t come from a government institution, a bureaucracy or a politician. It comes from God almighty.”

Or state senator Charles Schwertner who says, “No one should be forced to surrender their God-given, constitutional right to self-defense just because they set foot on a college campus.”

The other prominent supporters of weaponized campuses are also outspoken Christians: Gov. and white guy Gregg Abbott; Lt. Gov., white guy, and former talk radio personality Dan Patrick; and Attn. Gen. Ken Paxton, also a white guy coinicidentally and currently facing multiple felony charges.

So here’s the problem.  These white guys are committed Christians, but their politics contradict what Jesus actually said.  Would a gun-loving Jesus say things like, “Love your enemies” and “Bless those that curse you” (Lk 6)? Of course not.  Would a good Texan Jesus forgive his executioners while he’s dying on the cross (Lk23:34)?  Of course not.

So how do we deal with this disconnect between our Christian politicians and the actual teachings of Jesus? The solution is simple. We just need to rewrite the Bible.  Jesus was wrong, but we can make him fit Texas politics.  We’ll rewrite the gospels.  Call it the “Revised Texas Version” of the Bible, what Jesus really meant to say.

For example,

  • In the old Bible, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  In the Revised Texas Version Jesus says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for power, and never get their fill.”
  • In the old Bible, Jesus says: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”  In the Revised Texas Version: “Blessed are the merciless, who show no mercy.”
  • Old Bible: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  Revised Texas Version: “Blessed are the purely heartless, for they will see NRA funding.”
  • Old Bible: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”  Revised Texas Version: “Blessed are the Colt .45 Peacemakers, for they shall the weapon of God.”

But it’s not just these blessings that need adjustment.  What about the teaching from Jesus in the old Bible called the Golden Rule? “In everything, do unto others as you would have them do unto you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Mt 7:12) In the Revised Texas Version the Golden Rule will be: “In everything, do to others before they do to you; for this is state law, and it profits the gun industry.”

Or what about this Jesus saying from the old Bible? “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ but I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” (Mt 5:38-39)  That can’t be the real Jesus.  He’s not conservative enough for Texas.  Here’s the Revised Texas Version, “And Jesus said, ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a Glock G43 for your backpack.”

But revising the Bible won’t be enough.  We also need to change our worship services. So in closing, please bow your heads with me as I recite the Lord’s Prayer in the Revised Texas Version.

Our Father who art in heaven, hollow-point be thy bullets.
Thy kingdom come, with many guns on earth
That send bad guys to heaven.
Give us this day our daily threat,
And forgive us our trespasses, as we shoot those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from dildos.
For thine is the pistol, and the ammo, and the bloodshed forever.

Amen.

Rally to Resist! Rally to Repeal!

Sun_Orange_Square_Better_GWednesday, August 24
12 PM – 1 PM
West Mall UT Austin
Austin, Texas 78712

It’s the law, but we don’t have to like it.  Let’s show that we’re not going away.  Wear Orange, Speak Out! Let’s Make it Clear: Loaded Guns on Campus is NOT NORMAL.

Speakers
Elliott Naishtat, State Representative
Kathie Tovo,  Austin City Councilmember
Gina Hinojosa, Democratic candidate for State Representative
Nicole Golden, Texas Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Jessica Jin, UT graduate and founder of Cocks not Glocks
Ana Lopez, Plan II Honors Student, founder and Vice President of Students Against Campus Carry
Bryan Jones, Professor, Department of Government
Kailey Moore, UT Student
Rebecca Johnston, PhD Student in History
Jorge Canizares, Professor, Department of History
Steve Friesen, Professor, Department of Religious Studies
Susan Schorn,  Writing Coordinator in College of Undergraduate Studies
Lisa Moore, Professor, Department of English

MEDIA ADVISORY: UT-Austin professors fight SB-11 in federal court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2016
Contact: media@gunfreeut.org
GunFree UT press advisory

UT-Austin professors fight SB-11 in federal court; Gun-Free UT to hold post-hearing press conference

AUSTIN, TX — A lawsuit filed by three University of Texas-Austin professors against Senate Bill 11, known as campus carry, will get its first day in court this week. A hearing on the preliminary injunction will take place at 2:00 pm on Thursday, August 4 at the Federal Courthouse, 501 W. 5th Street. Professors Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter are suing to block the implementation of campus carry on the UT-Austin campus before the first day of classes on August 24th.

Gun-Free UT, which supports the plaintiffs in their efforts to keep guns out of classrooms, will hold a press conference outside the courthouse immediately following the hearing. Among the topics we will address are:

  • The broad support for the goals of the lawsuit within UT and the community at large.
  • Negative effects of SB 11 on recruitment and retention of faculty, administrators and students,
  • The need for a major research effort to reduce gun violence and promote personal safety without continued proliferation of guns.
    including the failure to recruit a Nobel Laureate.

***

Gun-Free UT is a broad coalition of faculty, students, staff, parents and alumni opposed to allowing guns in campus buildings. Since its founding in August 2015, Gun-Free UT has become a statewide movement, garnering national and international attention. Thousands at UT campuses from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley to Tyler have joined in the fight to keep concealed firearms out of dorms, classrooms and offices. 

For more information on Gun-FreeUT’s legal position, click here

Get armed…with reason, what you can do now

Concealed carry permits do not decrease crime: There is no statistically significant correlation between changes in concealed carry licensing and crime rates. Armed citizens rarely successfully defend themselves in mass shootings or during other crimes; instead, in a number of mass shooting events, an armed citizen nearly endangered other bystanders. (Phillips 2015, Journal of Criminology; everytown.org)

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24. But college student suicide rates have actually been lower than the general population since 1960 because firearms were effectively banned from campuses. (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; Schwartz 2006, Journal of American College Health)

The majority of Texans are opposed to Campus Carry: 63% are opposed to allowing college students to carry concealed handguns onto college campuses. 72% are opposed to allowing college students to bring concealed handguns into the classroom. (March 2015 SurveyUSA News Poll)

The High Costs of Campus Carry: The UT System says it will pay more than $39 million to further train campus police, add personnel, build gun storage facilities, purchase equipment and signage, and update security systems. (Houston Chronicle, Feb 2015)

Guns have a chilling effect on the free speech and free discourse that are the core of UT’s mission. Students must feel comfortable asking questions and discussing complex, charged topics. Faculty and staff must be able to challenge students to engage with difficult subjects. Family members need to be confident that UT is protecting their loved ones. Guns in classrooms and offices erode the foundation of higher education.

We are already seeing the fallout from the impending implementation of SB11. The Dean of our nationally celebrated UT School of Architecture stepped down, as have several professors, all citing campus carry as a reason for their departure. Numerous top academic hires and outstanding graduate students have turned down offers from UT-Austin or withdrawn from consideration because of campus carry. More than a few out-of-state students are transferring, while greater numbers are choosing not to apply. Even in-state families are seeking other options.

Losing even one professor or student because of campus carry is one too many.

What you can do:

●  Join more than 1,700 faculty members and thousands of staff, students, parents and alumni who have signed petitions against guns on our campus at  gunfreeut.org
●  Add your name to our mailing list to receive updates at: tinyurl.com/gunfreeut-list
●  Tell us your story of how an experience you’ve had on campus could have turned dangerous or deadly if someone had had a gun at: tinyurl.com/gunfreeconcerns
●  Connect with us on Facebook (Gun-Free UT) and  Twitter (@gunfreeut)

Surgeon General Dr. Murthy meets with Gun-Free UT

Members of Gun-Free UT were treated to a private meet-and-greet with Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General and all-around smart, nice guy. He, in turn, was treated to his-and-hers Gun-Free UT t-shirts!

During Dr. Murthy’s talk an undergraduate asked if campus carry was a public health concern.   His answer:   ” My concern about this is when we push laws without fully understanding the public health impact they will have. You might ask ‘well, how should we know?’  Well, ideally this is the kind of thing we should invest research dollars in.”

Photo Credit: Matt Valentine

 

Armed with reason, we’re fighting against guns on Texas campuses

By and , Feb. 26, 2016
Originally published on TribTalk.org at this link

“An armed society is a polite society.”

Gun advocates recite that line approvingly, sometimes misattributing it to various historical figures. If they took our literature classes, though, they’d learn that it’s actually a line from a science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein, and he’s describing a culture where people censor themselves because any offense might escalate to a shootout. That’s pretty much where we are now.

The single most common circumstance leading to gun homicides in the United States, according to the FBI, is an argument. That’s right, the heated exchange of conflicting ideas — the very reason universities exist.

Shooting deaths resulting from arguments vastly outnumber those related to gang violence, drug trafficking or any other known circumstance. University campuses, which by and large have been gun-free zones, have been relatively insulated from this kind of violence, and also from the self-censorship meant to pre-empt it. With the spread of campus carry, coming to Texas on Aug. 1, that’s changing.

This week, our colleagues at the University of Houston came up with some recommendations for classroom management in the Age of Campus Carry. Tips for professors include: “Be careful discussing certain topics. Drop certain topics from your curriculum. Don’t ‘go there’ if you sense anger. Limit student access to office hours.” As faculty at The University of Texas, we sympathize. The safety of our students directly conflicts with the legislative mandate to allow guns in classrooms. It’s our job to involve students in well-informed discussion and debate—to start arguments. And where guns are present, arguments can be dangerous.

Last week’s headlines in national and international press announced UT’s “recommendation” that guns be allowed in classrooms. Readers might have the understandable misperception that President Greg Fenves — or anyone representing the UT community — actually thinks this is a good idea.

The UT faculty council overwhelmingly supported a resolution opposing guns in classrooms. So did the graduate students association. The student body president lampooned campus carry in an editorial. Every member of the president’s working group on campus carry is on the record opposing guns in classrooms. So is Fenves himself. Chancellor Bill McRaven categorically opposed campus carry. Forty-two academic departments and programs have published statements opposing guns in classrooms; zero have published statements in favor.

None of this matters, though, because the Legislature never intended to give any meaningful autonomy to public universities in determining the implementation of campus carry. When it became clear that a strong consensus opposed guns in classrooms, Senator Brian Birdwell, a sponsor of the campus carry bill, asked the attorney general’s office to straighten us out, and Ken Paxton warned universities that they could face lawsuits if guns were banned from classrooms. The message from state officials was clear: every public university in Texas must issue a recommendation on guns in classrooms, and that recommendation must welcome them.

By asking us to participate in an empty ritual of debate and forcing us to pantomime consent, the Legislature seeks to make us all complicit in whatever consequences campus carry precipitates. To be clear, nobody can predict specifically what those consequences will be. Will an armed professor literally shoot himself in the foot in front of a class full of students, as one did at Idaho State shortly after campus carry was implemented there? Will a legally armed student accidentally discharge a handgun into his neighbor’s dorm room, as one did last year at Montana Tech? We’ll see.

What we do know, statistically, is that campus crime has not declined in any state that has adopted campus carry. We do know, from decades of epidemiological data surveillance, that the presence of guns is a risk factor for suicide. We do know that implementing campus carry will involve significant expenses that the state has not funded.

To anybody doubting that campus carry will harm the university: It already has. Prospective students, faculty, and staff have passed up recent opportunities at UT, citing this policy. On Thursday, the distinguished Dean of the College of Architecture, Fritz Steiner, said he is quitting UT for the University of Pennsylvania. He’s turned down Ivy League offers before, and says he wouldn’t be leaving now if not for campus carry. Colleagues have told us they’reretiring early, applying for jobs out of state, or planning to teach only online courses and hold office hours via Skype. Many of us have postponed work on books and other research projects — our jobs, in other words — to focus instead on gun policy this year.

That last point is not wholly a bad thing, though. Due to a congressional threat to defund the Centers for Disease Control, there’s been a decades-long freeze on research into guns and gun policy. There are only a few academic programs studying gun violence in the United States, and only through the lens of public health. There’s been relatively little academic study of gun policy through the disciplines of social science, history, government and the humanities. That will soon change.

One upside of campus carry is that it has brought together a community of interested scholars at UT. As Gun Free UT, we’ve begun to collaborate across disciplines. Few experiences are more bonding than being shot and executed together in effigy, as we all were in December. It is increasingly rare for academics from disciplines as diverse as neuroscience, film studies, gender studies, language arts, psychology, theater, music, area studies, history, government, economics and sociology to collaborate on the same research topic, but that’s what’s happening at UT right now.

As gun rights advocates across the country force guns into academia, academics will feel compelled to bring scholarship to the gun debate. We’ve asked the UT administration to create a new center for the study of personal safety, which could play a meaningful role informing public understanding of guns and risk.

Armed with reason, we’re ready for the argument.

Lisa L. Moore, UT-Austin professor for TribTalk.org.
Matthew Valentine, UT-Austin lecturer for TribTalk.org

TribTalk, a digital forum for dialogue and debate about the day’s news, isa product of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization. Learn more at TribTalk.org.

Armed with Reason