The Silencer Debate

“Minnesota lawmakers Tuesday weighed the perceived virtues and dangers of reversing the state’s ban on firearm silencers.Star Tribune, March 13, 2015.

Increasingly we live in separate worlds of perception. We ask ourselves “What am I doing here?”

The committee room at the State Capitol was packed. The committee chair wore a camouflage sports jacket, a visual statement that requires little explanation. Or maybe it does. Hunters wear camouflage. So do soldiers. The firearms industry loves them equally – hunters and soldiers – because the former provides a market in the private sphere while the requirements of war-making guarantee a steady flow from the public trough.

Also before the committee was a proposal to permit guns on the grounds of the State Capitol without first registering with the MN State Department for permission.

It’s confusing why any of us – regardless of how one interprets the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – would want people walking around the State Capitol building with guns. Can someone please explain why that’s a good idea?

On the silencer question proponents argued that silencers were in the interest of firearm users’ health. Silencers lower the decibels and thereby protect the shooter’s ears from the danger of hearing loss incurred by loud noises. Opponents argue that free access to gun silencers is a recipe for more killing, killing more quietly, and expanding the market of gun manufacturers.

The faith tradition – the view from the edge – from which I listen and watch finds all of this more than strange. Not abnormal, but very strange. I’m trying to hear the “still, small voice” translated anew as “a sound of sheer silence” heard by Elijah on Mr. Horeb?

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” – I Kings 19:11-13 [New Revised Standard Version]

What are we  doing here?


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