Two of the nation’s leading evangelicals are throwing their weight behind President Barack Obama’s push for universal background checks for all gun buyers, a measure that faces stiff opposition in both the House and Senate.
Rev. Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, and Dr. Richard Land from the Southern Baptist Convention, told TIME Magazine they supported the proposal.
“As ministers, we agreed together that we could stand on a united front for universal background checks,” Graham said. “We think that’s reasonable and responsible.”
But their support come with conditions. Graham wants the president to tax violence in Hollywood films and use part of the money to help victims of gun violence. Land said President Obama should improve the nation’s mental health system. He emphasized that his organization does not support the ban on assault weapons, which passed out of the Senate Judicial Committee today.
Meanwhile, Newton clergy wrote a letter to the committee urging an increase in gun safety measures, and thousands of nationwide clergy have come out in its support. In the letter they expressed hope that better gun safety laws would, “spark off a spiritual awakening in America that will transform us into a culture of compassion, reconciliation and civility.”
But critics say the types of gun laws the president advocates would not decrease gun violence.
“It is not much satisfaction that criminals are going to have access [to these weapons] and we are going to give the American people a pea shooter," Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told U.S. News. “Why would we turn a law-abiding citizen into a criminal?”