From: The Rev. Valarian Ahles; the Rev. Laurie Skow-Anderson, Bishop of Northwest Synod of Wisconsin (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America); the Rev. Adam Arends; the Rev. John Ashland; the Rev. Chris Boerger, Bishop of La Crosse Area Synod (ELCA); the Rev. Mary Ann Bowman; the Rev. Lois Buchholz; the Rev. Dave Christianson; the Rev. Tom Elliot; the Rev. Mike Hibbs; the Rev. Elizabeth Howe, assistant to the Bishop of La Crosse Area Synod (ELCA); the Rev. Joe Iverson; the Rev. Kary Jonas; the Rev. Peter Jonas; the Rev. Hee-Soo Jung, Bishop of Wisconsin Conference (United Methodist Church); the Rev. Robert MacDougall, Northwest Wisconsin Association (United Church of Christ); the Rev. Cheryl Matthews; the Rev. Karen Ressel; the Rev. Paul Tobison; the Rev. Paul Sannerud; the Rev. Anna Sorenson; the Rev. Luis Paolo Vásquez; the Rev. Barb Certa-Werner, North West District Superintendent (UMC)
We urge the Trempealeau County Board of Supervisors to stand against gun violence and reject the resolution to declare our county a second amendment sanctuary. We support the Second Amendment, and in fact many of us are gun owners who enjoy hunting and recreational shooting. But declaring our county a Second Amendment Sanctuary will not improve the common good or enhance public safety.
Mass shootings command public attention, but every day 109 people die in the United States by firearms. While our neighbors die by suicide, homicide and accidents, our nation is once again engaged in an arms race. Americans purchased 21 million guns in 2020, an all-time high. We will probably buy more in 2021. The arms race we are engaged in today is not against the Soviet Union or the Taliban. We are arming ourselves against each other. We do not think the answer to an epidemic of gun violence, a domestic arms race, and other pressing social problems is more guns.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commands his followers to not retaliate against evildoers and to turn the other cheek when struck. Believers today struggle to discern how we are called to obey this difficult word in relation to the powerful human urge to protect and defend what is dear to us. But at the bare minimum, Jesus’ command convicts and convinces us that the answer to our nation’s and humanity’s most pressing problems is not violence.
One of our most serious reservations about declaring Trempealeau County a Second Amendment Sanctuary is that if the resolution is passed, it will undermine the rule of law and respect for representative government. The sanctuary resolution states that the county will not enforce or fund “unconstitutional laws.” If all 72 counties in Wisconsin enforced only laws which each county determined were constitutional, chaos would ensue and law itself would become meaningless. This is why our courts and not county government must ultimately decide the constitutionality of laws — including firearms laws.
Above all, we call upon our county government not to become captive to the dangerous assumptions which animate this sanctuary resolution — which is that the U.S. and even the state of Wisconsin are somehow grave threats to our way of life, and that Trempealeau County must defend itself against them. Our nation faces critical social problems including creating economic opportunities for the next generation, ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable health care, seeking racial justice and slowing the warming of our planet. Trempealeau County’s government and programs are vitally necessary to address America’s urgent problems at the local level. This sanctuary resolution is not only a distraction, it undermines the national unity of purpose we need to secure a more hopeful future for all people.
We cannot begin to tackle the important problems our county and our nation face if we distrust other Americans so completely that we are convinced our rights and liberties can only be defended at gunpoint. The Second Amendment Sanctuary movement reflects a lack of faith in all three branches of American government. Our constitution was written to form “a more perfect union,” and we need a higher sense of national unity and purpose now more than ever. Lincoln memorably quoted the Bible when he said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” It stands to reason that a nation, a state or a county where people are convinced that they have to arm themselves against their neighbors and fellow citizens cannot thrive.