The Rushmore Report – Evangelicals from Max Lucado to Pat Robertson Urge Action on Guns

Though white evangelicals are less likely than average Americans to push for stricter gun laws, the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, has promoted pastors to advocate for “sensible” gun restrictions to help prevent more attacks. Count Max Lucado and Pat Robertson among those speaking out.

Robertson spoke out in favor of banning automatic weapons and bumb stocks, which allow semi-automatic rifles to fire more quickly.

“I’ve got no opposition whatsoever to shooting, but for heaven’s sakes, I don’t think that the general population needs to have automatic weapons,” said the Christian Broadcasting Network founder, himself a politically conservative gun owner and a defender of the Second Amendment. Robertson also voiced support for tighter background checks.

Meanwhile, Max Lucado, Joel Hunter, and Lynne Hybels were among 15 evangelical leaders who launched a petition for gun safety in America days after the latest shooting.

“We call on our fellow Christian believers, church leaders, and pastors across the country to declare that we will decisively respond to this problem with both prayer and action,” they stated.

The petition cited a “biblical responsibility” to lobby for common-sense gun legislation, to encourage gun owners to secure their own firearms, and to help those with severe mental illness get professional help.

Other initial signers include Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute president Rob Schenck, author Preston Sprinkle, Texas Baptist leader Guy Reyes, and Murdock Trust director Romanita Hairston-Overstreet.

Most Americans believe that stricter gun laws (58%) and better health services (77%) could have prevented the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Additionally, the Pew Research Center reports that evangelicals are the only religious group “in which a plurality (40%) say that putting more emphasis on God and morality in school and society is the most important thing that could be done to prevent future shootings.”

About the Author

Kate Shellnutt writes for Christianity Today.

The Rushmore Report – Here’s How We Can Protect Our Children If We Really Want To

The tragic attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida is a deeply painful reminder of how much we have failed to honestly confront the problem of school shootings in America. Putting up “Gun Free Zone” signs is not a solution. It is an act of self-deception. Killers are not slowed by community sentiment.

America is not going to become gun-free. Firearm-specific bans such as on semi-automatic rifles won’t have an impact because the majority of mass shootings in the United States are committed with handguns. Case in point: the deadliest shooting in our history, in 2007, at Virginia Tech. The killer used a handgun.

Mental health-focused “solutions” are incompatible with civil liberties. America is not going to adopt laws to apprehend or restrict every person who might become dangerous. The fact is, each killer’s threat is much more obvious after the killings.

Make no mistake – evil people with guns must be stopped by good people with guns. Furthermore, the faster good people can respond, the fewer innocent people will be killed.

Every school in America should have several teachers and administrators trained in firearms who are permitted to carry concealed weapons. The number of these “protectors of the innocent” in each school should be determined by the number of students.

Agreeing to serve in this role might be encouraged with an appropriate monthly stipend. After all, in Georgia, teachers who agree to serve as coaches are paid stipends ranging from $150 to $400 per month.

Because these protectors would have concealed weapons and not be in uniform, would-be killers would have no idea who might be capable of ending their threat by ending them.

This idea is the same principle behind the Federal Air Marshal Service, which was rapidly expanded after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The marshals provide countervailing force to stop terrorists. And these marshals are unidentifiable, so the terrorists don’t know who they are. Do you ever hear of anyone who feels less safe getting on a plane because they know an armed air marshal in on board?

If we are really serious about protecting our children, we must have trained and equipped protectors prepared to handle this type of situation whenever there are school activities. The Parkland school had an armed officer assigned to the campus, but the officer never encountered the shooter and was not able to respond in time.

Dramatically increasing the presence of uniformed, visibly-armed security guards, however, might create an environment ill-suited for learning.

Instead, teachers and administrators serving as protectors could complement and support the dedicated officer or security personnel who are already serving in many schools.

This combination of using uniformed police officers to handle standard school security challenges – while also having responsible adult protectors who are already going to be working in the school prepared to provide additional force in the case of a catastrophic emergency, like a mass shooting – is the most effective and practical way to protect our children.

About the Author

Newt Gingrich is the former Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The Rushmore Report – Rick Santorum: ‘What All These Shooters Have in Common’

In an interview with CNN host Jake Tapper, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum said the public debate after the Parkland mass shooting should not be focused only on gun control, but also on the real problem. Santorum identified the number one problem that is leading to all these mass shootings across the country.

Appearing on State of the Union, Santorum said the most consistent problem among the school shooters is that “these kids come from broken homes without dads, and that is not something we’re talking about. We want to talk about things we can work together on. How about working together to try to see what we can do to get more dads involved in the lives of their kids?”

Santorum continued, “The idea that we’re going to ban these guns is never going to happen and the idea that we’re even focused on this when there are so many other issues that are much more relevant to the systemic problem we have in this country of the breakdown of the family and father – we need to be talking about these things.”

Sen. Santorum has hit on the real issue. Messed up families produce messed up kids, and messed up kids do messed up things. The only real solution is not to control the guns or to arm the schools (though some legislation in these areas may be appropriate). The real issue is to clean up the mess – the mess created by fathers who are not present in the lives of their kids.

The Rushmore Report – Answer to School Shootings, It’s Not that Complicated

It has happened again. Fifteen students and two adults were senselessly murdered by a madman. It was the 15th school mass shooting since Columbine – on April 20, 1999 – and the most deadly ever. When the shooter (we don’t give shooters’ names here) took the lives of 17 innocent victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, he re-ignited the national debate on gun control and how Congress should respond to this growing madness. Are there arguments to be made on both sides of the gun debate? Absolutely. Will Congress finally do something? Probably not. But it’s really not that complicated.

First, there are several legitimate criticisms and things that need to be done – though none of them will really go very far to solve the problem. For example, in Florida it is legal to buy a gun at age 18, but not legal to buy alcohol until age 21. Should that change? Sure, it should. Congress should pass a national law restricting gun ownership to those age 21 and above.

Mental illness is a real problem. Should those who are mentally ill be restricted from buying guns? Or course, they should be. But keep in mind that about 70 percent of the American population is on mood-altering prescription medications. So determining who should be disqualified from gun ownership based on mental illness will be an unsolvable quagmire.

Should certain types of guns be banned? Or course. There is no need for Citizen Joe to have a high-powered weapon. But again, this will not solve the problem.

Here’s the reality – bad guys, by definition of being “bad guys” don’t obey the laws. Gun restrictions will be ignored or bypassed by those intent on committing such unthinkable crimes. More gun laws will do for gun deaths what prohibition did for alcoholism – nothing.

So what is the solution? Let me state one simple, indisputable truth, and then the solution will become self-evident.

Here it is – public schools are the most gun-free zones in America. Period.

In Florida – and across America – it is illegal to bring a gun on campus. When the crazed madman stepped onto the Marjory Stonemen Douglas High School campus Wednesday, he knew one thing was 99 percent likely – he would be the only person there with a gun.

What followed was three minutes of shooting. Three minutes. That’s all it took. Meanwhile, someone called 911, and the police were on their way. But here’s the thing – it takes three minutes to kill 17 unarmed citizens, while the average emergency response time for the police is five minutes. So the madman, on average, has all the time he needs to take out 17 innocent lives with two minutes left over for his escape.

So here is the painfully obvious solution. Allow school personnel to have guns – under very strict guidelines. For example, ex-military men and women should be allowed to bear arms. Teachers and administrators who complete a very rigorous testing process should be allowed to carry concealed handguns.

No one should know who has the guns, except the principal. But every would-be killer needs to know that schools are no longer gun-free zones. Right now, when the madman shows up at Campus X, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. But by arming those who pass background checks and rigorous training, a deterrent will exist that is not there now.

For any readers who oppose this idea, let me pose this question. If it was your child in a classroom, with only unarmed teachers and students, and you knew a madman was headed for that room with the intent of shooting everyone in sight, would you rather the teacher be able to defend your child or not?

Again, it’s not that complicated. We have tried gun control. Our strictest gun control zones – public schools – have become killing fields. Not allowing school leaders to be armed has proven reckless. Why not actually do something to protect our innocent children’s lives?

This very suggestion is being made this week in Tallahassee, before the Florida State Legislature. What state and federal politicians will do will rest largely on this question: Do we want to look serious about stopping the carnage, or do we actually want to save lives?

I repeat – it’s really not that complicated.

The Rushmore Report – President Trump’s Message to Democrats

President Trump went on a Twitter rage on Saturday night. His subject was mostly the shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida, that took 17 lives. While addressing the shooting and expressing his opinions on what could be done in the future, the president had a very direct message to Democrats – one they don’t want to hear.

This was the president’s message:

“Just like they don’t want to solve the DACA problem, why didn’t the Democrats pass gun control legislation when they had both the House & Senate during the Obama Administration? Because they didn’t want to, and now they just talk!”

As is usually the case, Mr. Trump’s tweet could have been toned down. But does he have a point? Sure he does. Under former president Barack Obama, Democrats passed the most sweeping reform to health care in American history – without a single Republican vote. They could do this because they had a filibuster-proof Senate majority of 60-40, plus the majority of the House.

For two years, the Democrats passed every single law they introduced. But what was missing? Gun control.

On the heels of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, which left 26 dead, the Democratic Congress did nothing. They could have passed a ban on assault weapons, but they didn’t. They could have passed universal background checks, but they didn’t.

Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich (who is running for president in 2020 – ignore his statements to the contrary) said on Sunday that he has no confidence in Congress to do anything on guns.

“Do I think they can do something on guns? I hope they prove me wrong, but I have no confidence in them,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

This Congress can act, but it won’t be easy, as neither party can get what they want without buy-in from across the aisle. But there was a day – not that long ago – when Democrats had the votes to do whatever they wanted (as they did with Obamacare). They had a chance to pass gun legislation, and they whiffed.

On this point, President Trump is right.

The Rushmore Report: Mike Pence Responds to Texas Church Shooting

Vice President Mike Pence has responded to critics who have questioned the usefulness of prayer following last Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in Texas which left 26 people dead. “Right now, I truly believe that covering those families in prayer is making a difference in their lives, and it will continue to support those families and that community in the days ahead,” Pence told Fox News in an interview.

Online debate has unfurled across Twitter and other platforms in the wake of the massacre at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, with some suggesting that prayer does not work if it can’t protect Christians at church.

“I’m a believer. I believe in prayer and I know that at this moment of such heartbreak and loss in that community that what most Americans are most able to do is pray for those families,” Pence said.

The vice president added, however, that prayer takes “nothing away from our determination to get to the bottom of what happened, to understand the why, to determine whether or not there were errors along the way.”

Authorities are investigating if and in what way existing laws and background checks were not properly applied to shooter Devin Kelley, who illegally purchased the guns he used in last week’s attack.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told Fox News in a separate interview that he stands by his offers of prayer, even though he was specifically targeted for his tweets.

Former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Stand By Me” actor Wil Wheaton lashed out and wrote in response to Ryan’s prayer tweet earlier this week: “The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive, you worthless sack of [expletive].”

Wheaton later apologized and explained he wasn’t trying to attack people of faith, though prayer continues being criticized in debates online.

“It’s disappointing. It’s sad, and this is what you’ll get from the far secular left. People who do not have faith don’t understand faith, I guess I’d have to say,” Ryan told Fox.

He added, “And it is the right thing to do – to pray in moments like this because you know what? Prayer works.”

The House Speaker blamed the “secular left” for much of the “polarization and disunity” in the country due to sentiments like that.

Prominent pastors, such as Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and Irvine, California, told The Christian Post that while it is hard to understand God’s role in tragedies like church shootings, prayer is far from ineffective.

“The Bible does not promise anyone a pain-free life. In fact, Jesus himself said, ‘In this world you will have tribulation’ (John 16:33). Here is what I do know: these people that were gathered for worship at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, believed in and loved Jesus Christ,” Laurie added.

He said that the victims are now in God’s presence, “where there is ‘fullness of joy’ and ‘pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11). All of their questions are answered; our questions will have to wait.”

Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of National Day of Prayer and senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, separately told CP: “In this fallen world when the spirit of evil is raging, all things that happen are not good. Yet, our faith and hope remain in God alone. When we pray, we are depending on God for strength; when we do not pray, we choose to depend upon ourselves, which always leads to unbelief.”

About the Author

Stoyan Zaimov is a writer for The Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report: Three Lessons from the Texas Church Shooting

The worst mass church shooting in American history took place Sunday in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, Texas (pop. 643). While holding regular Sunday services, the First Baptist Church was suddenly invaded by Devin Patrick Kelly, who killed at least 26 worshipers. From the deadliest shooting in Texas state history, we learn three lessons. To miss these lessons is to invite even more carnage in the coming days.

1. Christians are under attack.

If you are an American Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or cultist, you are treated as royalty by the “mainstream.” But if you are a Christian or Jew, you are the cause of all that is bad in America – racism, bigotry – you name it. In the 25 years from 1980 to 2005, according to the National Church Shooting Database, there were 139 shootings at churches in America. In 2015 – just one year – there were 248. Christian principles and morality are under attack. We could give dozens of other examples – from education to politics to media – but anyone who needs more facts to be convinced will never be convinced.

2. Gun control is not the answer.

I offer two convincing arguments. First, at least two of Kelly’s weapons were purchased illegally. They were already subject to gun control laws. But, shockingly, Mr. Kelly did not obey those laws – killers never do! The argument that calls for the banning of more guns is predicated on the hope that murderous thugs who disobey our “thou shalt not kill” laws will happily fall in step with new gun regulations. It is hard to imagine a more insane position. (If gun control laws worked, Chicago would be the safest place on earth, rather than the most deadly city in America.)

Secondly, it was a gun that ended the shooting. A nearby resident named Stephen Willeford heard gunshots at the Baptist church. Willeford, an NRA member, jumped into action. He removed his rifle from the safety of his home safe, loaded it, and pursued the mass murderer. Shots were exchanged, and Kelly was hit. He died a short time later. Had Willeford not had a gun, who knows how many more lives would have been taken?

Joe Wurzelbacher astutely observes, “In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others unable to defend themselves were exterminated.”

Let’s review. The only man in this story who would follow more gun control laws was the hero – Mr. Willeford. It’s really not that complicated.

3. The problem is not guns, but evil.

We can eradicate guns from the world, but not evil. Mass killers have used cars, buses, airplanes, knives, pipe bombs – and guns – to achieve their goals. Until we enact laws to restrict access to cars, buses, airplanes, knives, and pipe bombs, these will all be used by evil men and women. The Bible makes it clear that evil is the root of senseless destructive behavior. The answer is not to treat the symptom, but the disease. The Apostle Paul said it like this: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not just because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” The small town of Sutherland Springs suffered immeasurably last Sunday, because of one man who was evil. But they were spared further, unimaginable massacre, because one man did something about it.

I’d like to think we’ve seen the last of men like Devin Patrick Kelly. But that would be naive. With the presence of armed evil among us, we would all be wise to be watchful, careful, and prayerful. And if – just in case – an armed good guy is nearby . . . that is a good thing.

The Rushmore Report: It’s Time to Confront Our Suicidal Immigration Laws Honestly

At some point, Congress needs to wake up to the fact that carrying a firearm is a constitutional right, while immigration is not. Whenever there is a major domestic shooting, the Left immediately screams “Gun control.” Never mind it doesn’t work. But when Sharia-believing Muslims from the Middle East commit terrorist acts on our soil – as happened two days ago in New York – the same Left has no desire to even discuss our suicidal immigration policies that facilitate such terrorist acts.

How many more will have to die before we have a national conversation about immigration?

The suspect in Tuesday’s vehicular (no guns were used) jihad attack in Manhattan is reportedly a man named Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, an Uzbek national who was apparently issued a green card by Obama’s DHS in 2010.

How did this happen, and what’s the problem?

WABC-NY reports: “Authorities say he came to the United States seven years ago from Uzbekistan under what is called the Diversity Visa Program, which offers a lottery for people from countries with few immigrants in America.”

The terrorist didn’t fly into one of our airports under a false ID, nor did he sail over on an ISIS-sponsored ship. No, we welcomed him through our front door, just like we did the 9/11 hijackers. Meanwhile, Congress has had no serious discussion on the core problem since 9/11.

Immigration by lottery? Seriously? Yes, and we have yet to hear from the man who sponsored this law – the senator from the state where the attack occurred – Chuck Schumer.

Data shows that from 2001-2015, in the 15 years immediately following 9/11, 1.83 million green cards were granted to immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries. In fact, we have welcomed more immigrants from Muslim regions than from any other part of the world. And the same politicians who push for such immigration are the first to limit Second Amendment rights.

I offer two groundbreaking ideas.

1. Go to merit-based immigration. The thing is, immigration was not initiated over 200 years ago for the purpose of helping those in inferior lands; immigration’s purpose was to make America better. It’s called putting America first. This is, after all, the country our politicians were elected to represent.

2. Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Common liberal ideology acts as though foreigners have a right to free passage to America until proven otherwise. Newsflash – nowhere in our Constitution is immigration a guarantee or right.

Still, every year, we admit 155,000 students per year. This includes 59,000 legal immigrants from Uzbekistan since 2001. Does anyone want to guess how many of these subscribe to Sharia supremacism, which cultivates the climate under which these individuals migrate to America? We can only imagine.

But when President Trump proposes even a modest moratorium on just a few countries which promote and train terrorists, he is shut down. Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are more interested in restricting the rights of native-born Americans than restricting the flow of terrorists who have no legal claim on our homeland.

We live in a day when any attempt to restrict the flow of immigrants – avowed to kill Americans – is considered insensitive. It’s time for Congress to stop the nonsense. And frankly, it’s time to stop making counterterrorism exclusively about endless Islamic civil wars overseas.

It’s high time for Congress – Republicans and Democrats alike – to clamp down on immigration. Call it “extreme vetting.” Call it “paranoia.” Call it “insensitive.” I call it “saving American lives.”

It’s time for all of Congress to care about all Americans – enough to do whatever is necessary to keep terrorists at bay. Gun ownership is a right; immigration is not. Is this the right time to pass restrictive immigration policy? No, the right time would have been sometime before Tuesday, when our insane, suicidal immigration policies cost the lives of eight innocent lives.

To rebrand an old phrase: Guns don’t kill people; Islamic terrorist immigrants do. Let the conversation begin. Let the madness end. And may Congress actually step up and spend as much time condemning Islamic terrorists as they do the president’s tweets. Until one of these tweets runs over and kills eight lives on the streets of Manhattan, I humbly suggest, Congress has another job to do.

The Rushmore Report: Why This Isn’t the Time to Talk Gun Control

In the aftermath of last week’s massacre outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, the political actors didn’t waste a second before launching into fresh calls for gun control. “If we don’t talk about it now, then when?” asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Of course, the immediate days following such an event are the days when public opinion sways toward more gun control laws. But this is actually not a good time to talk gun control. I offer five reasons why this is true.

1. Legislation should be proactive, not reactive.

Congress is good at chasing shiny objects. But with healthcare, tax reform, Iran, North Korea, immigration, and border security still unresolved – and with over 200 laws still waiting on the Senate to wake up to their Constitutional duties – this is not the time for a whole new debate that will have no end. Gun control legislation should result from regular order, not disorder. To let a madman dictate when Congress acts makes no sense.

2. The shooter’s motives remain unknown.

Any response to the recent shooting must therefore be rooted in what we know from said shooting. And so far, we don’t know much. Why did he do it? What were his motives? With whom – if anybody – was he working? Was this an act of terror? As Ben Shapiro writes, “The jump to making policy based off such lack of information is stunning.”

3. How the shooter acquired his weapons is still unknown.

We know some things, but not much. Before we run off down the pathway of gun restrictions – in response to this event – we must ask ourselves, “Would this new legislation even have mattered in this case?” If new laws are not being put in place in response to this shooting, what is the rush? And before we go crazy over the man’s guns, keep in mind, he passed all FBI background checks. As Charles Cooke of National Review points out, legal automatic weapons have been used in a grand total of three crimes since 1934.

4. Making policy in response to horror is not well considered.

Good policy is good policy regardless of timing and bad policy is bad policy regardless of timing. It’s human nature – when something tragic occurs, we want to do something – anything. We heard from gun control advocates after Sandy Hook, Pulse, Virginia Tech, and Columbine. But passion does not make for good policy. We must lead with “How will this legislation actually change anything?” rather than “We just need to do something – anything!”

5. New gun control laws will have limited success – at best.

I’m still waiting to hear about the guy who says, “You know what, I was going to kill somebody and go away to prison for the rest of my life, but then I realized it was illegal to use the gun I was going to use.” Madmen don’t obey laws. That’s why they’re called “madmen.” As the NRA is quick to point out, the number of guns in America has doubled since 1993, while in that same period gun deaths have been cut in half. And where we have the most gun control – Chicago – we have the most deaths. It is interesting that the same celebrities and left-wing political leaders who scream for more gun control and less walls are the same people who have armed guards and huge walls surrounding their own mansions.

The Rushmore Report: What the Las Vegas Shooting Will Mean for Gun Laws

The deadliest mass shooting in modern American history has thrust the bitter debate about gun rights back to the center of Washington politics. Predictably, everyone is reaching for familiar scripts. With at least 59 dead and over 500 injured, Democrats are already demanding more gun control, while Republicans, who oppose new firearms laws, have offered condolences and prayers. But the big question is what this will mean to the gun rights debate in the coming days.

Liberals voiced disbelief that such bloodletting, this time at a country music festival, had happened yet again. Sen. Elizabeth Warren warned on Twitter: “Thoughts and prayers are NOT enough.”

For their part, Republicans accused Democrats of politicizing a tragedy. Sen. John Cornyn said, “I just think this is disgusting,” referring to the politicization by the Democrats.

Much is still to be learned about the shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock. We know he fired down on 22,000 revelers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel late Sunday night. We will learn more about him in the months to come.

But what about new gun laws? The irony is that when President Obama and Democrats controlled policy, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, they did nothing to pass new gun restrictions. But now that Republicans are in control, they would have us think such inaction is cruel and unpatriotic.

Trump’s Response

To his credit, President Trump’s immediate reaction has been measured and sympathetic. He has struck the right notes of grief and shock while calling for national unity. Trump has offered solace while avoiding the temptation to leverage tragedy for political gain. He said, “We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace. And we pray for the day when evil is banished, and the innocent are safe from hatred and fear.”

Democrats’ Reaction

Democrats have not missed a second in their attempt to take political advantage of the mass shooting. Sen. Chris Murphy told Congress to “get off its ______.” Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton refused to join Trump’s call for silence, saying on Twitter: “It’s time for action.” And Hillary Clinton has called the massacre “terrible and sickening,” while demanding further gun control laws.

What Will Happen

The middle of the nation is shrinking. While polls show most Americans favor greater background checks on gun purchases, it probably wouldn’t have mattered in this case, anyway. Conservatives will continue to point out that most mass shootings would not have been affected by the new laws that are often bantered about. Further, they will suggest that anyone evil enough to pick up a gun and kill dozens of innocent lives is unlikely to be deterred by new gun laws. And on that point, they would be right.