…Bishop Daniel Flores of the Brownsville Diocese in Texas recently wrote on Twitter that Americans “sacralize death’s instruments, and then are surprised that death uses them.”
The good of the whole community gets left out of the discussion, Bishop Flores told the Catholic website The Pillar, “when we’ve … elevated the individual right beyond proportion. … To say something is sacralized is to say it’s almost taken out of any possibility for conversation.”
Some observers on the right also see a threat – not from gun control advocates, but the gun community itself. “The threat is gun idolatry, a form of gun fetish that’s fundamentally aggressive, grotesquely irresponsible, and potentially destabilizing to American democracy,” writes David French, a veteran, lawyer, and evangelical Christian, in The Dispatch.
Social researchers show some causal effect. As Americans segregate along political, racial, and religious lines, more and more faith is being put in the gun. Since the sunsetting of an assault rifle ban in 2004, the number of AR-15 type rifles in American citizens’ hands has soared to 20 million. Marketers have paid heed.
Daniel Defense, the Black Creek, Georgia, company that sold the rifle used on May 24 to kill 19 grade schoolers and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, earlier in May posted a photo of a toddler with an AR-15 on his lap, with the biblical caption, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
The National Rifle Association has long understood the power of religious messaging. Indeed, “you would get a far better understanding if you approached us as if you were approaching one of the great religions of the world,” the NRA’s executive vice president, Warren Cassidy, once said.
“They’ve kind of created this monster, as it were, organized around the gun as a political totem,” says Professor Spitzer.
— Patrik Jonsson & Noah Robertson in Has the gun become a sacred object in America?