My church, First Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY, is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year. The church donated some artifacts to the Albany Institute of History & Art, itself founded in 1791. The Institute has an exhibit, ongoing through April 17, showing some of the church history over the years.
Some of the church members included John Jay, eventually the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury; and Aaron Burr, third Vice-President of United States, and the first NOT to go on to become President.
After Burr killed Hamilton in a duel in 1804, the pastor Eliphalet Nott delivered a jeremiad against dueling. It being a particularly long and significant sermon, it was published by the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany. (I listened to the re-enacted speech few years ago.) Eliphalet Nott had the remarkable effect of, almost singlehandedly, effectively ending what had been considered an “honorable” way for gentlemen to settle their differences.
The current debate over gun violence likely will not be ended so easily. The solutions seem to be fewer guns on one side, more guns on the other. The latter group clings to the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The notion of a militia, to me, seems to be a state-run National Guard.
In any case, here’s a list of murders with firearms (most recent) by country. And here are twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States. Nothing here, I suspect, will change anyone’s mind about the next steps to take. No Eliphalet Nott sermon will save the day any more.