A Unification Position on Gun Control


By Michael Mickler, Professor of Church History, UTS

Michael_MicklerThe 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.

In his “Strong Korea” speeches, Kook Jin Moon singles out Israel as a democracy that has chosen “strength over weakness.” He states, “They have developed a culture where they can mobilize and maintain a very strong military force to preserve their independence.” Yet Israel’s gun control laws are, if anything, more stringent than Switzerland. In Israel, it is forbidden to own any kind of firearm, including air pistols and rifles, without a firearms license. In addition, honorably discharged military officers, ex-special forces, retired police, full-time jewelry dealers or handlers of large sums of money, civil guard volunteers, and residents of militarily strategic buffer zones considered essential to state security are eligible for licenses allowing them to possess only one handgun. Licensed hunters may possess one shotgun. Licenses, which include passing a weapons training course, are required and must be renewed every three years.  In short, gun ownership in Israel is considered a privilege and not a right.

The situations of Switzerland and Israel suggest that gun control measures are not inconsistent with either democratic governance or a strong national defense.

The United States is an anomaly among developed nations in terms of its lax gun possession laws. Still, it would be a mistake to assume there is little or no legislation on the books. The National Rifle Association (NRA) reports 20,000 gun laws nationwide and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine notes 300 federal and state laws regarding the manufacture, design, sale, purchase, or possession of guns.

Federal gun control measures commenced with the National Firearms Act (1934) passed in response to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. It imposed an excise tax and mandated that “gangster weapons” such as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns be registered.

The Gun Control Act of 1968, enacted in response to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., broadly regulated the firearms industry through limits on interstate commerce. It required that dealers be licensed and banned sales to several categories of individuals including convicted criminals, addicts, illegal aliens, and the mentally defective. It also mandated that guns carry serial numbers and implemented a tracking system.

The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 made it illegal for an armed citizen to pass within 1,000 feet of any K-12 school in the country, and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 created a national background check system to prevent firearms sales to “prohibited” persons. A 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban was in force for ten years but allowed to expire in 2004.

Current agitation over gun control in the U.S. has followed the spate of mass-shootings over the past decade-and-a-half, particularly last December’s Sandy Hook Elementary School murder of twenty school children and six adults as well as the perpetrator and his mother. Several states adopted stronger gun control measures, but a bi-partisan Senate bill which would have expanded background checks to gun shows, of which there are an estimated 5,000 annually in the United States, failed.

What, then, is or should be a Unification position on gun control? I suggest four principles should guide Unification thinking on this subject:

  1. Transcendence. Unificationism is a religious worldview. It is not to be identified fully with any existing national ideology. Unificationists should give their allegiance, love, and service to their nations of origin or adoption. However, they cannot be held captive to particular formulations on any issue, including gun control. Our ultimate loyalty is to the Creator and all humankind. American Unificationists who absolutize the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or portions of it (i.e., the right to keep and bear arms) are guilty of idolatry.
  2. Individual Liberty. Unificationism places the highest value on individual freedom. It teaches, for example, that God Almighty will not interfere with human freedom even if persons choose or are tempted into unprincipled actions. It also holds that the dominant trend of history is humankind’s “pursuit of freedom.” With respect to gun control, Rev. Moon has repeatedly emphasized the right of individuals and societies to self-defense. In addition, Unificationism condemns political ideologies such as totalitarianism which deny human freedom and concentrate power in oligarchies or a single ruler. Despite their potential for harm, societies should be hesitant in denying citizens access to arms and wary of monopolies on weapons by ruling elites.
  3. Public Responsibility. Unificationism teaches that humans are “connected” beings. As such, we exist and develop within a web of interpersonal relationships. These begin in the family and extend to the wider society. According to Rev. Moon, individuals are meant to serve the family, families to serve society, societies the nation, and nations the world. Unfortunately, few individuals or societies exemplify this “live for the sake of others” ethic. As a consequence, governments regulate behavior through systems of law. This is the rationale for gun control legislation.
  4. A Higher Calling. Unificationists should be clear that weapons will not transform the human heart or the world. Like the law, armaments primarily exist to restrain evil. In the wrong hands, they further evil. Many Unificationists will make use of firearms for sporting or hunting purposes. Some will serve in the military or law enforcement. A few will make their living in gun manufacture or munitions industries. Other Unificationists will abjure violence entirely, seeking to “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”

In a 1977 interview, Rev. Moon stated, “We are conquerors by love, conquerors by truth, but not by violence, not by weapons.” Elsewhere, he cited the “army of Jesus” which “used no weapons, neither swords nor spears” but before whom the Roman Empire fell.  Unification teaching upholds “voluntary surrender” or “natural subjugation” by means of sacrificial love. Firearms have their place, but this is the higher calling to which all Unificationists should aspire.♦

Dr. Michael Mickler’s books include: Footprints of True Parents’ Providence: The United States of America (2013) and 40 Years in America: An Intimate History of the Unification Movement, 1959-1999 (2000)

19 thoughts on “A Unification Position on Gun Control

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  1. The article is balanced and respects both positions. Personally, I was upset by Kook Jin Nim’s statements on a Strong Korea and the Freedom Society, throughout 2012, mostly because no debate was possible, and his views were presented in a dogmatic way.

    That being said, I do respect those who sincerely believe in the power of deterrence, though I see it, personally, as a necessary evil. Statements on such matters often reflect our national culture, and I may understand some of the reasons why Americans believe in the need of carrying guns almost as a self-evident truth. It would be difficult for most Europeans to believe this, and it does not mean that one is right and the other is wrong.

    On this matter, Michael Mickler offers us a Unificationist and yet non-partisan view, balancing idealism and realism, long-term concerns and immediate needs. I think it goes in the right direction, both in terms of contents and of tone.

    The Divine Principle also offers a nuanced view on war and peace (Eschatology), stating that not all wars were evil in the course of restoration. It makes sense and is supported by some wise statements of Emmanuel Kant, the promoter of perpetual peace. We may also remember that Gen. Douglas MacArthur [as military governor] deprived Japan of its armed forces [in its peace constitution], and he even met President Kennedy [July 1961] to promote a very substantial reduction of weapons, shortly after Eisenhower’s warning against the military-industrial complex. The best doves are often recruited among the staunchest hawks.

    What bothered me in Kook Jin Nim’s rhetoric is his theology of Abel with a gun. Those who believe this should keep it as a personal opinion, but it should never become our theology. The Divine Principle, when dealing with Abel and Cain, is unconcerned with legitimate defense. We have a general theory of the natural subjugation of Satan, which has proved to be efficient in some cases, such as with the end of the Cold War in 1989.

    Our experience as Europeans (I myself am French) should be respected:
    – We enjoyed the military protection and nuclear deterrence of the USA for decades, even after the Cold War. And Europeans cannot be but grateful for that.
    – We built the foundation of a Unified Europe, using intellectual tools that had existed in Europe before World War II.

    Elsewhere, people did not use the “Hobbesian” military protection to create the foundation of a “Kantian” lasting peace, to speak like Kagan, but in Europe we tried.

    At the end of the Cold War, West Europeans embraced East European nations and we now have abolished our borders and created a common currency.

    As a result, Europeans believe, through their own experience, in something which may remain foreign to the American experience so far.

    Laurent Ladouce – France
    National Messiah to Laos

    1. Thank you, Dr. Mickler, for this article. It is an objective perspective on the position Unificationists should take regarding gun control. In his “Freedom Society” talks, Kook Jin mentioned that government is in the position of “Archangel”. From my understanding of Divine Principle, I always thought government should be in the position of parents in the Kingdom of God. I realized that I could not totally align with the “Freedom Society” ideology. I did recognize that there are some good points such as guns for self-defense and the responsibility to protect the weak. However, it should not be the main ideology behind Unificationism.

  2. Kudos to Prof. Mike Mickler for his article “A Unification Position on Gun Control”! Thank you, Mike, for a sound, sane and sensible, not to mention principled, nutshell treatment of the gun control issue. Kook Jin Moon’s position on guns, I am sorry to say, has nothing to do with the establishment of the ideal world, the building of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, or the Heart of God. Here’s hoping that Unificationists will come to understand Father Moon’s heart and acknowledge the supreme power of God’s love, rather than succumb to the folly of Nietzsche.

    Kerry P.

  3. I have to also congratulate Dr. Mickler for his approach to outlining the issues related to gun control. Many debates among Unificationists seem to belie simplistic and dogmatic views on the topic. He is right to begin outlining principles to consider when discussing the topic. A principled approach to governance provides a framework for decisions and laws in complex societies. Principles spell out a set of boundaries beyond which we should not cross if we want to avoid social dsyfunction.

    For example, one principle is the right to self-defense–and this implies not just the right of an individual to defend oneself from other individuals, but the right of groups, and states to defend themselves. And, we have to consider the rights of individuals and groups to defend themselves against states that would deprive them of their natural rights and freedoms. Therefore, just this one principle, the right to self-defense, has to be interpreted and applied in a more systemic viewpoint with many levels of society involved. This leads us to a communal principle, one which we might call a “unified” viewpoint–and that leads us to the principle that all are connected.

    But if you dogmatize the communal principle, and apply it the way Mao did “through the barrel of a gun,” then you end up with the collective principle destroying the principle of the individual right to self-defense, as well as the conditions of the individual attainment of the three blessings. This means necessary curtailments of government power, as well as the curtailment of firepower in the hands of elites and gangs, as well as some curtailment of individual rights. If you apply the principle of the right of individual gun ownership dogmatically and do not have laws that restrict access to known felons or people that have not shown responsible competence in gun use or maintenance, you unnecessarily endanger public safety.

    We should also remember that much of our gun legislation has been “feel good” legislation passed to prevent violence that it did not prevent. There is always going to be a dynamic relation between the realities of human life and the ideal we seek. For example, the Gun-Free School Zones Act has kept honest citizens from carrying guns near schools, but in the case of Sandy Hook, made such a school a target because the perpetrator would encounter little opposition to the crime as the school was made a “sitting duck.” The movie theater in Aurora, Colorado was also chosen because it had a sign saying “guns banned on these premises.” These were expressions of legislation motivated by higher calling, but lacking realistic appreciation for human nature and the reasons some self-defense is always going to be necessary. Sandy Hook happened despite existing legislation that made it illegal for the perpetrator to own a gun and declared schools gun-free zones.These shootings caused a realistic appreciation of some armed security, whether it be teachers carrying guns, or hired security professionals.

    1. Mr. Anderson, I’m very appreciative and respectful of your opinions and writings and even though we never met personally I find them very agreeable and clear-headed. Thank you.

      I am not a very well-educated person and lack the ability to express things correctly, so I hope my ideas/opinions are not misunderstood or at the least that you may “fill in” the missing parts.

      1.- “Defending” something is only needed because there is someone “Attacking”
      2.- Good will not (should not) attack
      3.- Evil does attack
      4.- Individual freedom is the absolutely necessary for the fulfilment of the three blessings

      “Principles spell out a set of boundaries beyond which we should not cross if we want to avoid social dsyfunction.”
      From the beginning of time the boundary of the “Principle of Creation” was already crossed by Lucifer, let us not forget that. Hence the need to defend God’s Ideal. This in itself makes up the historical context and significance of this topic, especially in America. Once we forget this, we come up with all kinds of hair-brained ideas or what you call “feel good” legislation, and we then adopt “opinions” as principles.

      “…communal principle, one which we might call a “unified” viewpoint–and that leads us to the principle that all are connected.

      But if you dogmatize the communal principle, and apply it the way Mao did “through the barrel of a gun,” then you end up with the collective principle…”

      There is a long jump here from ” all are connected” to “through the barrel of a gun,” and that is the dogmatizing time and process that Mao had and may I add that we have gone thru a similar time and process by which America and many of its people (including Unificationists) have forgotten the original Principles of its founding within God’s plan and Providence of Restoration.

      Because of America’s role in the Providence, Satan seeks to destroy it, and deviate it from its destiny, thus attacking the fulfilment of God’s Ideal. Satan also (secondarily) seeks to destroy any other nation remotely capable of replacing America in its providential capacity.

      “…These were expressions of legislation motivated by higher calling, but lacking realistic appreciation for human nature and the reasons some self-defense is always going to be necessary…”

      Legislators are in need of understanding not only human nature but also the very existence of human “fallen nature” and the very root of it. Unfortunately, the proportion of the ones who know this and the ones who ignore it is very unbalanced, making it more important that Unificationists contribute more to the public’s education of the Principle. The implications of our failure to do so would be staggering, much so like our failure to stop communism after WW II where instead of facing the death of one million Chinese troops via nuclear bombs we had to face the death of over 120 million via Marxist-Leninist-Maoist executions.

      So, I believe, we are left with the task of finding real applications of our knowledge of God’s Providence and of the Principle (Unificationism) and not just simple (or complex) intellectual exercises that would satisfy our ego without any consequence in the real world and its desperate need to be set free by the truth and eliminate evil or at least deter it.

  4. In the Israel of today, soldiers all carry their weapons with them all the time. They also carry full magazine clips. When they go home on leave they often keep their weapons with them, including ammo. This includes BCs who serve in the army. When they leave the service, they are in the reserve until age 45 and they all typically continue to train for a month out of the year. You can sometimes see the occasional civilians who were in fighting units as soldiers, walking down any street with fully loaded automatic weapons, which they’re permitted to retain as long as they’re able to use them in defense of Israel.There was one recent case of an Israeli police officer who shot and killed government officials perceived to have wronged him. Everyone sees that incident as an anomoly, that he had gone a bit crazy and crazy people do crazy things. Otherwise every person guarding every hospital, McDonalds, health clinic, government building, drugstore, apartment building and supermarket would automatically be suspect. They all have semi-automatics and rarely would we read of a Columbine or Sandy Hook here, certainly not because of gun proliferation. A rocket attack or homicide bomber, yes, but not citizens attacking other citizens. Which leads me to the conclusion that it’s not the guns, it’s the society that needs our attention.

  5. Sorry to spoil the party, but I have to fault Dr. Mickler on several scores. First, he denigrated a number of noble projects by improperly naming them. To him SDI was “the militarization of space” (not the Strategic Defense Initiative that did away with the insane doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction and helped bring down the Soviet Union). He also writes off the Contras as being involved in a mere “violent revolt”: instead of an armed resistance against a Marxist regime which had itself come to power not by democratic means but by violence. More substantially, instead of taking Kook Jin Moon’s Freedom Society ideas seriously, he chose to criticize (rightly IMO) only its half-baked proposals which were obviously not ready for prime time. Hardly well-balanced, this approach throws KJN’s baby out with the bathwater. But the meat of the matter is Dr. Mickler’s proposal for a Unification position on gun control: my main objection is that — like the rest of the piece — the proposal is reactionary. It is not really a proposal on gun control at all, but a reaction to KJN’s shoot-from-the-hip style. Dr. Mickler’s high-minded call to seemingly noble principles masks a below-the-belt-punch against UCers who hold the 2nd Amendment dear. Is calling them “idolators” really a way to move the dialogue forward?

    1. Dan, Dr. Mickler did refer to SDI in the manner of many anti-SDI ideologues, but I don’t think it was meant as a below-the-belt attack on 2nd Amendment ideologues. Most of these ideological arguments contain some partial truths. Even if SDI was a defensive operation that would allow nations to defend themselves, which is preferable to MAD, it was bringing military hardware (albeit defensive) into space, which like the moon and Antarctica had been militarily neutral by treaty and convention. Thus Mickler was technically correct, even though the attackers of SDI might have been fostering policies that would make the world less safe.

      Your comment, like many comments on blogs elsewhere in the blogoshpere, got sidetracked by a more spurious weakness rather than focusing on constructive dialogue with the core points of the article. It would have been more in the intent of this Applied Unificationism blog to comment on the principles he outlines, which you might even be able to use to support SDI if you carry them to some logical conclusion. I think our movement needs to help try to change the civil, scientific, and constructive nature of dialogues on the Internet, which largely tends to devolve into opinion and special interest sympathies.

      As an aside, today the SDI arguments are somewhat mute because there are now more accurate ground-based anti-missile missiles which don’t require the militarization of space.

  6. Well after a second reading I realized that you said ‘a’ and not ‘the’ Unification position on gun control. When I first read the title I thought I didn’t know the Unification Church/movement had a position on gun control and also does the Church need such a position? The debate over gun control in the United States is unique to this country due to the United States Constitution and the frontier culture that is a part of our unique history. For me to stand upon the United States Constitution and in particular the 2nd Amendment in no way is idolatry nor does it take away from my belief in or loyalty to the teaching of True Parents. The mission of the Church is to educate people’s consciences and not to be directly involved in the political process. The exception would be when an issue rises to the level of morality. Gun control is clearly not a moral issue like slavery . Guns are tools and like any tool can be misused. Control and regulation must be left to the culture and legal tradition of each tribe and nation. Clearly Kook Jin Moon’s personal political and philosophic positions can not be construed to be the teaching of the Unification Church. Because of his name and his position it caused confusion and made some folks uncomfortable.

    1. Michael Downey makes several important points which merit reply. The first of these is that “to stand upon the United States Constitution and in particular the 2nd Amendment in no way is idolatry” and doesn’t detract from one’s belief in or loyalty to True Parents’ teaching. I wholeheartedly agree. The article criticizes “absolutizing” the Second Amendment or portions of it, not standing up for it. Absolutizing means there is no higher authority or competing good. For me, the Second Amendment or any other legal principle is idolatrous when taken to that extreme.

      Second, Downey states, “The mission of the Church is to educate people’s consciences and not to be directly involved in the political process.” He allows an exception for an issue that “rises to the level of morality.” I agree somewhat with his first statement. When Unificationists involved themselves in Ronald Reagan’s first presidential campaign (most say at the direction of Rev. Moon), they resigned their church positions. However, my article did not refer to the church but to Unificationism, a religious worldview. By definition, worldviews encompass the world, including politics. I would be unhappy with a religious worldview which did not provide guidance for public as well as private life.

      Third, Downey argues, “Gun control is clearly not a moral issue.” On this point, I profoundly disagree. I believe Michael Downey would have a difficult time defending that position to parents of murdered Sandy Hook school children. Downey maintains, “Guns are tools and like any tool can be misused.” By that logic, any technology whether related to birth control, stem cell research, genetic engineering, etc., is neutral and exempt from moral reflection and judgment.

      Downey concludes, “Control and regulation must be left to the culture and legal tradition of each tribe and nation.” I almost agree. I would say control and regulation is “best” left to the culture and legal tradition of each tribe and nation. Unfortunately, the moral compass of tribes or nations is often skewed. Of course, intervention, even “humanitarian intervention,” raises a whole other set of moral issues and outcomes, most of them problematic. Minus the charismatic authority of Rev. Moon, Unificationism will be challenged to develop a theory or theories of politics and policies for implementing its religious vision.

  7. Dear Dr. Mickler,

    I wholeheartedly congratulate and thank you for such a well-thought and supported article on gun control. As Laurent said, as a European, I cannot help but be really scared whenever I see American Unificationists’ strong stand on that matter! Still, I’d like to keep open to other viewpoints, but never, ever, at the cost of sacrificing Father’s ultimate purpose to uphold true love above any other strategy/way to achieve everlasting true and real peace on earth.

    Sebastián Badosa, Spain

  8. It is not idolatry to support the 2nd Amendment and even make an absolute stand for it. God gives us life and liberty. Unless God also instilled in us the *absolute* right to defend life and liberty, then to say that we have the right to life and liberty is meaningless. The 2nd Amendment only affirms that the government cannot take away what is our real birthright as children of God.

    It really is that simple.

    It’s not just handguns and rifles either. The Founders were fully cognizant of the fact that the artillery and warships they used to fight the revolution were provided by private citizens and not by any government.

    This debate is getting beyond the government anyway. In an age when a private citizen can send an unmanned capsule to the International Space Station, dock it, deliver supplies and bring it home, when the head of DARPA quits to join Google, when anyone will be able to 3D print a gun at home, and not to mention the highly capable, well-equipped and independent private security forces available to private individuals worldwide, the use of government force to control people is becoming obsolete.

    It’s time to focus Unification Thought on creating truly ethical people.

    1. Eric,

      Apart from the idolatry issue, I wonder on what basis you claim the American Founders “were fully cognizant of the fact that the artillery and warships they used to fight the revolution were provided by private citizens and not by any government.”

      The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), as patriotic an organization as there is, freely admits, “The French government provided cloth for uniforms, powder and muskets, naval vessels with firepower comparable to the British fleet, an army expeditionary force nearly the size of the Continental Army, and the heavy equipment and experienced officers required to execute a successful siege. French subsidies and loans, eventually totaling eight million dollars, were vital to maintaining the Continental Army in the field.”

      You make an interesting point in concluding, “the use of government force to control people is becoming obsolete.” Hopefully, someone will pick up that thread and assess its implications for Unification thought and practice.

      1. I agree with Mike that the final point merits discussion, and perhaps an article of its own, for it seems to me that there will always be governance by force at some level — maybe not always the level of the nation-state — unless people live in harmony in a principled world. As long as human beings try to improve their lot by fighting over resources and power, either individually or though groups, you will end up with some people forcing others to do things they don’t agree with. Although, a good case might be made that globalization, and the influence of economic giants, greatly limits the absolute power that nation-states seem to have in the 21st century.

  9. The Libertarian Party is the only political party I know of that is crystal clear about government having absolutely no regulation of guns. The Libertarian Party’s platform says:

    "The only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights — life, liberty, and justly acquired property — against aggression. This right inheres in the individual, who may agree to be aided by any other individual or group. We affirm the individual right recognized by the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, and oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense. We oppose all laws at any level of government requiring registration of, or restricting, the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition. We support repeal of all gun control laws and we demand the immediate abolition of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. We favor the repeal of laws banning the concealment of weapons or prohibiting pocket weapons."

    Unificationists in every country should become political activists and make sure that their nation has a clause in their constitution like the Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. The Libertarian Party does not go far enough. They should also say that government records, lists or files of gun owners and gun ownership at every level of government, from city to state to national, must be destroyed and promise to never make them again. All political parties should have in their platform that they oppose the banning or regulation of any kinds of guns, ammunition, or accessories such as machine guns, silencers, and size of magazines.

    Everyone from a felon to a 13-year-old should be able to freely buy without any government agency or law restricting him or her from owning everything from a switchblade knife to a sawed-off shotgun to a tank. Every nation should give total and absolute freedom for every citizen to own and use if needed against criminals and tyrannical governments any kind of firearm which is what the Second Amendment gives.

  10. I applaud Dr. Michael Mickler’s attempt to address the issue of gun control. Suggesting four guiding principles as the basis for formulating a Unification position is a good start. Keeping the discussion focused on basic guidelines should help steer the debate away from the usual vitriol heard on talk radio. A Unification position should provide a universal perspective that transcends religious and cultural differences.

    Since I live in Montreal, Canada, (a mere 45 minute drive from the U.S. border), there exists ample opportunity to listen to contrasting views on the topic. Although Canada and the U.S. share much in common, including many enthusiastic hunters, views on gun control are generally far apart.

    I don’t think Dr. Mickler is simply trying to take an underhanded jab at Kook Jin Moon’s views, as suggested in one of the comments to his post, but rather makes a serious effort to address the paradoxes implicit in Unification talk and practice. Indeed he provides good examples of what are seemingly contradictory positions.

    “Beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks” has been the mantra of Rev. Moon for a good number of years. Can anyone give us a count of the number of peace organizations he inspired and founded?

    However, it is also true that since the early days of the movement in Korea and the founding of organizations such as the International Federation for Victory over Communism, he also promoted “Peace through Strength.”

    Clarifying the Swiss and Israeli position is helpful and stands in sharp contrast to what some were fed in Freedom Society presentations.

    I find it troubling that some of our American brethren quote the U.S. Constitution and refer to the 2nd Amendment as though it was “Holy Writ”. There should be room to challenge elements of the U.S. constitution that were written over two centuries ago within a context that included a war against a colonial power.

    We often hear from the likes of the NRA (National Rifle Association, for those not familiar with the acronym) that “guns don’t kill people”. The fact is that people with questionable motives, attitudes and morals use guns to kill people. Therefore, there is much need for education in the area of values and morals – a task that religious institutions should be fully engaged in.

    The ease with which residents of the United States can acquire guns has not been helpful.

    Although, statistics show that firearm-related violence in the United States is not the worst in the world, statistical studies show that the U.S. fairs worse than all developed countries.

    Consider recent statistics on homicides with firearms per 100,000 population (Source: UNDOC) for a select group of countries: USA 3.60, Israel 0.94, UK 0.04, Switzerland: 0.52, Canada 0.5, Japan 0, South Korea 0. (Countries with rates higher than the USA are generally in developing countries.) There is no reasonable justification for such elevated rates of firearm-related homicides in the USA.

    Although Canada is a nation of hunters with a high ratio of gun owners (other developed countries with an even higher ratio are Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway), one does not find the level of firearm-related violence one finds in the USA. There is a direct relation between ease in acquiring firearms and gun-related homicide.

    Some studies have examined the link between gun ownership rates and firearm death rates comparing Canada, the UK, Australia, and the USA and 92 percent of the variance in death rates is explained by the differences with ease of access to firearms. A study often cited is when Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia are compared where in spite of strong similarities in size and demographics, firearm homicides are considerably higher in Seattle – mostly due to ease of availability.

    Interestingly, when one compares other crimes such as robberies and other crimes, rates in Canada and the USA are very similar.

    A Unification position on gun control should transcend the limited American perspective. A position on gun control should also be mindful of cultural context. Thus a universal approach would be in order. Mickler has done a good job to stimulate dialogue and debate on an important issue.

    (Franco Famularo – Canada – UTS ’94)

  11. Truth is truth, no matter the country, religion, or political system. If the concept underlying the Second Amendment (the right to keep and bear arms) is rooted in truth (that is, rooted in principles that God recognizes), then the principles of the Second Amendment are valid for all human beings everywhere on earth. In that case, Americans who stand behind the Second Amendment as an absolute right not subject to government reversal cannot be idolators. When considering gun ownership, Unificationists should be taking as their first principle the universal truth that underlies (or not) their position, and not permit any country-of-origin prejudices to cloud their judgment. When people champion gun ownership, they are really championing the sanctity of life and liberty, because guns are the only effective tools, at the end of the day, when nothing else is left, to defend life and liberty.

    But staunch gun ownership supporters err when they seek unlimited gun ownership, as much as staunch gun controllers when they seek wholesale denial. In both cases, because guns end up in the wrong hands! The USA has yet to strike a balance between unlimited gun ownership by lawful citizens, and abridged gun ownership by those who have demonstrated an irresponsible use of guns. Unificationists cannot responsibly take part in the gun ownership debate without acknowledging the public safety aspect. Even in an ideal world of perfect human beings in one heart with God, guns would no doubt be restricted from the hands of 3-year olds.

    We all know weapons don’t transform the human heart. Weapons exist primarily to project an individual’s power…as Sam Colt reputedly said, “God made man, Sam Colt made them equal.” With a gun, the 90-pound weakling can stand up to the 300 lb. mastiff. Criminals use weapons to project their will on others. Law abiding people use guns to neutralize that projection of will. Our higher calling as Unificationists is to teach Principle and work toward human restoration such that the desire to project one’s will over others and the need to neutralize it is removed.

    Unificationists need to put guns into the context of the imperfect world we live in. Besides sport and hunting, guns serve a valuable purpose defending life and liberty. Because they’re easily misused with destructive consequences, limitations must be imposed. The extent of those limitations is really the crux of the gun control debate. Some want to limit guns so that they’re unavailable, and others want to limit guns so little there is, effectively, no protection of the public safety. As in most things with the Principle, a harmonious give-and-take between these two needs is necessary such that balance is achieved.

  12. Thank you Dr. Mickler for addressing this controversial topic and laying out some principles for us to consider. What this caused me to consider is: (1) Who should be responsible for the regulation and (2) We can either regulate people or devices/technology. Perhaps both. (3) What are some options to consider? (4) What are the risks of added regulation or less or no regulation?

    1. It seems to me that regulation is already agreed to on some level. We already accept that rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons should be regulated or banned and not protected by the 2nd Amendment. I would argue that since gun ownership is part of the U.S. Constitution as one of the first Ten Amendments, it should be regulated on the federal level.

    2. Regulating people means providing a means for excluding people deemed to be unreliable or a risk to public safety. This would include convicted felons, those adjudicated to be mentally incapable or using such weapons without endangering public safety and those with protection of abuse orders. There could be more. This is primarily accomplished via background checks. We saw recently that this system has holes in it. The Air Force did not provide the information necessary to exclude a person in the recent Texas church shootings. Clearly we would not want to have these weapons.

    I recently purchased a .22 caliber rifle to deal with a problem with ground hogs on my property. It was quick and easy and is basically the same check required by public school teachers and anyone working with children in a private or public setting. When you purchase a gun at a store, a background check is mandatory. If you purchase one at a private sale, which are basically public events where vendors buy and sell guns and other items, these sales do not require background checks. Sales between individuals also do not require background checks.

    Conceal and carry permits allow people to carry loaded handguns in the public. A special permit is required for this and rules vary state to state.

    3. Regulating devices and technology covers a lot of territory. In the recent shootings in Las Vegas, a specialized device, a bump stock, allowed this shooter to bypass the exclusion of automatic weapons. These should be banned. Another technology to consider is armor piercing bullets. These are designed to pierce bullet proof vests. These should be banned or regulated, as they are primarily used by law enforcement or by criminals against each other. Even excluding high capacity magazines, which allow people to fire hundreds of rounds in minutes, I think should be excluded or highly regulated. There could be more, but I think you get the idea.

    Another option is to require mandatory training for all gun users and liability insurance, much the same way that drivers are required to carry liability insurance to operate their motor vehicles.

    4. There is no magic bullet or law that will eliminate violence with guns in the same way that no one law will eliminate injury and deaths via motor vehicles. We accept motor vehicle regulation as a public good. Clearly, if only the police and government had guns we would not be safer. It is also true that if everyone has conceal and carry permits, we would not be safer either. I think that we have a lot of work to do to address mental illness and drug use here in the U.S. Without doing these, we are only dealing with the symptoms and not the major driving forces behind most gun violence.

    To not address many of these issues, in my opinion, will result in a big swing toward much stronger regulation by generations Y and Z.

    I would like to keep my .22 and 30-06 and remember owning and using a .270, 30-30 and a .357 handgun in the past.

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