By Michael Mickler, Professor of Church History, UTS
The Unification movement has an ambivalent relationship to guns and violence. On the one hand, Rev. Sun Myung Moon defined himself a “Peace-Loving Global Citizen,” stated he had tried everything except being a soldier because he never wanted to kill anyone, and dedicated his ministry to the reconciliation of former enemies. On the other hand, at the height of the Cold War, he warned that if “North Korea provokes a war against the South Korean people,” his followers would organize a “Unification Crusade Army” and “take part in the war as a supporting force to defend both Korea and the free world.”
Unification movement-owned factories in Korea manufactured M-1 rifles and the Vulcan Cannon. During the 1980s, the movement-funded Washington Times supported intermediate-range missiles in Europe, SDI (i.e., the militarization of space), and violent revolt of the Nicaraguan Contras. More recently, Kook Jin Moon, the owner of Kahr Arms, a successful gun manufacturer, claimed, “In the Kingdom of Heaven, all people would…bear arms.” Abel, he said, should never have let himself be killed by Cain but instead used his creativity “to develop a weapon.”
Given its ambivalent relationship to guns and violence, does Unificationism have a word to contribute to the acrimonious and divisive gun control debate in the post-Columbine, post-Virginia Tech, post-Gabby Giffords, post-Aurora, post-Sandy-Hook era?
Some Unificationists maintain there should be no restrictions on gun ownership or usage. In his “Freedom Society” talks, Kook Jin Moon argues that the Swiss militia system best approximates Rev. Moon’s vision of “Peace Kingdom Police.” Everyone has their full-time job and career with all able-bodied male citizens keeping fully automatic firearms at home.
However, it bears mentioning that these arms are government-issued and Swiss citizens are not permitted to keep ammunition for them, it being stored in government arsenals. Until 2007, militia members were allowed a small emergency supply of ammo but it had to be kept in a sealed box and was subject to regular inspections to ensure no unauthorized use had taken place. In 2007, the distribution of ammunition stopped and militia were required to return what ammo they had. Apart from the heavily regulated militia, Swiss gun laws are considered to be restrictive. Gun purchases require a valid weapon acquisition permit and have to be registered.