Piers Morgan, Guns, and the Bible

Right-wing personality Alex Jones’ tirade on Piers Morgan’s CNN radio program, in which he ranted, among other things, “I’m here to tell you—1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms!” has led Glenn Beck to declare his competitor “a crazy person.” Alexander Abad-Santos tries to unpack that one for you at the Atlantic Wire.

Meanwhile, Morgan is not letting up on exposing the personalities on the gun-loving right. Tonight, he will host Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt, who last appeared on Morgan’s program just after the Sandy Hook massacre. In that appearance, Morgan denounced Pratt as “an unbelievably stupid man” because of his claims that arming citizens (including teachers and school personnel) is the best way to decrease gun violence.

Pratt is a frequent guest on cable news promoting the views of the gun lobby that sits to the right even of the NRA. Something that is almost always overlooked in those appearances is Pratt’s religiosity, and how he and his followers claim the Bible supports their claims that the citizenry should be armed.

Former Rep. Ron Paul has praised GOA as “the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.” When Paul was running for the GOP presidential nomination, Pratt returned the favor, giving him a “Defender of the Second Amendment” award at an Iowa campaign stop. There, Pratt called gun control “a Nazi concept.” (UPDATE: More on Pratt’s views on Nazis and gun control here.)

I interviewed Pratt three years ago, after the Supreme Court’s ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago, in which the Court held that state and local gun control laws must comply with the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Pratt, who has authored an essay entitled, “What Does the Bible Say About Gun Control?”, told me, “When we’re talking about firearms, we’re not really talking about a right but an obligation, as creatures of God, to protect the life that was given them.” Pratt believes the federal government is largely unconstitutional, and that militias (or “sheriff’s posses”) should be armed to resist its “tyrannical” incursions. (The entire article was co-authored with my colleague Julie Ingersoll, an expert on Christian Reconstructionism, a label that Pratt rejects but a movement whose essential tenets underlie his views.) GOA’s political arm, Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund, has supported the candidacies of Republican Senators often touted as future (or even present) GOP stars, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul.

Morgan explored and exposed Pratt’s alarming positions on arming citizens during his last appearance. I’m guessing that a lot of people who have actually read the Bible would be rather taken aback by Pratt’s contentions about how it informs his gun agenda. Morgan could make things a lot more interesting interrogating those views.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email