Franklin Graham Backs Universal Background Checks

The son of evangelist Billy Graham tells TIME why he has agreed to support President Obama in passing universal background check legislation.

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Cliff Owen / AP

Rev. Franklin Graham prepares to leave the Pentagon, May 6, 2010.

Rev. Franklin Graham and other leading evangelical figures are publicly backing efforts to require background checks for all gun purchases, providing a shot in the arm to stalled congressional efforts to enact elements of President Barack Obama’s gun control plan.

Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham and the president of Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, and Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission told TIME they have agreed to back universal background check legislation put forward by the administration in the wake of last year’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“As ministers, we agreed together that we could stand on a united front for universal background checks,” Graham told TIME, noting he had many conversations with civil rights leader Rev. Amos Brown on the subject. “We think that’s reasonable and responsible.”

(MORE: How Gun Control Ends: Not With A Bang, But A Whimper)

Land wrote a letter to Obama in January on behalf of his organization pledging support to background check legislation, but his organization opposes the Assault Weapons Ban.

The vocal support of the largely-Republican evangelical community could represent a watershed moment for universal background checks, a modest plank, yet the most likely to pass, of the administration’s expansive gun control proposals. But their support may come at a cost for the White House — a commitment to taking on its political base in Hollywood over violence on the screen and in video games.

“There needs to be an all out effort to curtail the culture of violence that effects all of us,” Graham said. In an interview with TIME, Land called for “a Sister Souljah moment” from Obama for the entertainment industry. “You could tax violence and that money can be used for a special fund to help people who are victims of gun violence.”

And Land said the evangelical support for the background checks alone was tepid, and that to earn their help Obama would have to strengthen the mental health system and go after the entertainment industry.

(MORE: The Next Gun Control Battle: A Right To Carry Firearms in Public?)

“We’re not going to oppose universal background checks —it’s a nice idea but only law-abiding citizens follow that,” he said. “The more the president can make this a multi-pronged the more support he’s going to receive from evangelicals.”

The evangelical support comes outside the legislative controversy surrounding a background check bill, which has hit a stalemate over record-keeping requirements. Democrats are calling for private sellers, who are currently not required to conduct background checks, to maintain records of the guns they sell — a sticking point that has caused Sen. Tom Coburn to walk away from talks with Sen. Chuck Schumer over concerns that it would never pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Graham said he and Brown are hoping the White House will combine the two issues together by April 4, the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“There are millions of people that we can mobilize behind something like this, but it takes leadership from the White House,” Graham said.

MORE: If We Want Gun Control, We’ll Need to Compromise

47 comments
wldy1005
wldy1005

I truly feel for these people who have lost loved ones. It is devestating to have to endure such pain. But I do not support universal background checks. I am a 26 yr old disabled women. I am just trying to protect my constitutional right to bare arms. I feel like I must defend myself from my own government! The possability of universal background checks leads to a possability of a universal gun registry and is not worth the risk

JohnMartinez
JohnMartinez

You sir have little concept of the meaning of the Constitution, I would also assume you do not give any credence to the speration  of Church and state. So you may bed down with BHO and suffer the outcome. There are only two sides wrong and right and it is obvious what side you have chosen.

PaulLeslie
PaulLeslie

How the mighty have fallen.  Looking back in our history there was a time when pastors stood up against tyranny.  Now, they cooperate with the statists' agenda of trampling our Constitution and individual rights. 

zsparky
zsparky

The whole thing is absurd... Regulate guns and let the bankers steal all of us blind.... Oh well it wont matter after the dollar goes to zero.... then it will be martial law and if you do not want to be led to the death camps you will have to stand and fight like our forfathers did. I guess the Christians that want to give up will and the rest of us will fight because that is the right thing to do! They try to take my family to a death camp then they can expect a fight. When did being a Christian mean you have no back bone?

DonnyLeon
DonnyLeon

This is a petition I began because of the ammunition shortage in America. It is on the White House website under "We the People". Please read it and if you agree, sign it and pass it on to as many like minded people you can think of. Your rights depend on it. It is my believe that the weapons ban is a Red Herring and we are being disarmed without constitutional violation by the depletion of the ammunition supply to the general public. Even if you don't agree, thank you for taking the time to read this E-mail and I encourage you all to make inquiries and look up some of the staggering facts about this subject on your own. Googling "Government Stockpiling of Ammunition 2013" will get you started.
The petition requires 150 signatures before it will be open for public view on the White House website. It requires 100,000 signatures to be addressed publicly by the President of the United States. The deadline for achieving that goal is is April 7th 2013. A copy of this E-mail has been sent to the house and senate representatives for the state of Oregon.Wishing you all good health and happiness,
Donnie
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/immediately-investigate-federal-government-stockpiling-ammunition-and-demand-equal-sharing/bSy44fpx

catsune
catsune

No. No compromise. They don't know what that means. Write bills in the back room after the fact is more their style. No.

iceecclesiastes
iceecclesiastes

As  a devout Christian I want everyone to know I do not stand with these New World Order shenanigans of increasing human scans.

BillJenkins
BillJenkins

Mr. Graham, thank you so much for standing up for the victims and the innocent bystanders.  This is truly taking a Christ-like position.  My son was shot and killed in 1997 and was a fine young, Christian man who never had a chance to live out his life.  In the 15 years I have been working with victims' families since, I have met so very many people who have clearly had good, kind, faithful children killed through needless gun violence resulting from easy access to firearms. 

Jesus teaches us to be peaceful, loving, and forgiving people who work actively to make the world a better place by loving our neighbors.  Working for peace by vehemently opposing gun violence has become a calling and ministry from the Lord.

Please consider being even more vocal on keeping these tools of the enemy out of the hands of those who would hate and destroy.  And join those of us who regularly pray for those in our churches who demonstrate fear and hatred in response because they can't have the confidence and faith in our Lord that the light overcomes the darkness and can do so without violence and gunfire. 

We need as a group to fully resist the avarice and greed that drives this destructive and vicious industry to profit from death and destruction. 

God bless you for your position and I look forward to an even stronger stance on this issue from you.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

"largely-Republican evangelical community" is not part of BO's base and thus not particularly necessary for his agenda; aka the guys that won't pass anything no matter how reasonable or logical it might be..........the "bat shit crazies" as Bill Maher would say

EdgarPoe
EdgarPoe

OK, if Franklin Graham and the (Phew!) Baptists are for background checks, then I'm changing my position, and I will be against them.  I have never, nor will I ever, make common cause with hellbent, right-wingers, or cults of their ilk.  They have no business in the U.S.A., and I support them in NOTHING, except if they wish to leave America.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> But their support may come at a cost for the White House — a commitment to taking on its political base in Hollywood over violence on the screen and in video games.

a) The White House has already started doing that. Those industries have responded well so far.

b) Looking at the world’s 10 largest video game markets yields no evident, statistical correlation between video game consumption and gun-related killings.

c) And, in a technical note, the center of the videogame industry in America isn't in Hollywood.

SpookdBlog
SpookdBlog

@TIME @TIMEPolitics Will Prez allow a full background check on himself? We did see a photo of him shooting a gun. Was it registered? Was he?

JDEun3
JDEun3

I like shooting guns but this is good. MT “@TIME: Evangelical leaders back Obama on gun background checks | ti.me\/10FRp4Dhic

brenro12
brenro12

Whatever happened to "praise the lord and pass the ammunition"? This is another example of the GOP faithful fragmenting into oblivion.

MrObvious
MrObvious

It's common sense. As proven in many countries with complete gun control or gun ownership with background checks. It's a no brainer.

JohnDavidDeatherage
JohnDavidDeatherage

So Franklin Graham thinks further infringement on the 2nd Amendment is OK with him.  Should we re-examine the "free exercise" clause of the 1st Amendment. Oh wait!  That's different.  That's about the freedom to practice your religious beliefs.

We can't pick and choose which parts of the Constitution to fully enforce.  The last words of the 2nd Amendment are clear; "shall not be infringed."  Respect the Constitution.

obamadailywire
obamadailywire

Great News %s “%s: Franklin Graham backs universal background checks %s5ix”

gysgt213
gysgt213

“There are millions of people that we can mobilize behind something like this, but it takes leadership from the White House,” Graham said.

Shorter Graham, "but I'm not really going to stick my neck out."  MLK achieved a lot waiting for the White House to act.

bobell
bobell

I wish I could feel some encouragement over this.  After all, millions who cling to religion and guns are now being told by those who run the religion that they can compromise somewhat on the guns.  But what really matters is that Franklin Graham has zero votes in the Senate and Tom Coburn, who does have one, has seized on the first convenient excuse and bailed out.  He won't be the last senator to do so.

I understand that I'm just a low-information liberal who can't tell a Mannlicher-Carcano from a Luger, but is it really necessary to cater to the wackos who think that government registers cars merely so they can later seize them.  Oh, wait -- I meant guns, not cars.  No one much cares if government registers cars.  Or houses, for that matter.  Government already knows where you live. Be very afraid.

Why is the lunatic fringe running the country?

PaulLeslie
PaulLeslie

@DonnyLeon 

Let's see, we're going to petition communists to please honor the Constitution that they have sworn to destroy.

I appreciate the sentiment, but if the tide of socialism is to be reversed it's going to take more than submitting a plea that the tyrants only mock.

phildru911
phildru911

@BillJenkins Sir, tell me how many lives this would have saved if it were enacted back in 1994?  The answer is: Zero!  A feel good no good rights destroyer.  May God have mercy on your soul.

zsparky
zsparky

Maybe they should work on disarming the government. It kills many more people than a few lone wing nuts ever could. I will never give up my right to self defense. Taking away good peoples guns leaves only the worst with guns. As long as you do not know what happens to countries who give up the right to self defense you will always be on the wrong side. Jesus picked up a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple. He defended the people against greed and the American people will need weapons to drive the heavily armed money changers out of America! Do your home work or are you just a shill for the immoral statists?

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

just wondering: Does AAA advocate people driving without licenses or registration of vehicles? Or advocate drinking and driving? There is a huge difference between what AAA does and NRA does isn't there? There is also somewhere a distinction between "gun crime" (much of which is intentional, ie the school and movie slayings) and "drunk drivers and car accidents" (getting drunk might be planned but accidents are usually not planned).

jdchen003
jdchen003

@JohnDavidDeatherageWait... the overwhelming majority of felons are convicted under State law.  As the Constitution supersedes State Law in cases where there's direct confrontation, are you saying murderers still have an individual right to own a firearm?

And in any case, every right in the Constitution can be limited by due process - which is why you can deny a felon a gun.  That is, if you believe in the Constitution.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@JohnDavidDeatherage 

How does this infringe on your 2nd amendment rights? Are you telling me that you're okay with criminals and mentally ill to own weapons because you think that the 2nd amendment is absolute?

Magpie'sView
Magpie'sView

@JohnDavidDeatherage Would that be the constitution that implies possession of arms is a right in order to establish a militia? (To protect the country from foreign invaders) 

ZacPetit
ZacPetit

@JohnDavidDeatherage Sorry John, requiring background checks does not infringe upon anyone's 2nd amendment rights.

You 2nd amendment nuts would really do a lot better in politics if you would just adopt common-sense policy. How about "we support responsible ownership of guns." Mentally-ill? Probably not a responsible gun owner. A convicted felon? Probably not a responsible gun owner. This is all simple stuff people.

UMMLocal12
UMMLocal12

When people say they want to see leadership from the President, they mean I'll follow if he does what I say.

Sparrow55
Sparrow55

@bobell Great analogy.  Along with requiring that cars be registered, the government dictates what types of cars can or cannot be driven on the road as well as how, where and even when cars can be used.  The "freedom" of owning and operating a car also comes with government mandated responsibilities, but nobody seems to be all worked up about an infringement on their rights.  The same responsibilities and limitations should be true for gun ownership as well.  Why people are having a hard time grasping this is beyond me. 

gysgt213
gysgt213

@bobell I remember a certain would be president getting blasted for suggesting that people cling to religion and guns. 

phildru911
phildru911

@notLostInSpace Tell me how many "accidents" by vehicles are really accidents.  Do you know the percentage?  How about the intentional run downs, hit and runs, or get away cars?

MikeCarter
MikeCarter

You are aware, of course, that it's been illegal for the mentally ill and/or convicted felon to be in possession of any gun, right? For decades? That it's a felony?

Perhaps it's best to find out the facts first, post second?

Tired77
Tired77

Show me exactly where having a car is guranteed in the Constitution? Having a hard time grasping the difference between a right and a priviledge? Owning guns is a right, not a priviledge. Owning cars is a priviledge, not a right. Try to keep up.

bobell
bobell

@gysgt213 I thought that might tickle a few fancies.  But of course the point I'm making is dead serious.

BillJenkins
BillJenkins

Actually, you are mistaken.  It was only ruled so once, in Heller.  Historically, all other high court decisions were for corporate ownership, not individual.  And in the same decision, Justice Scalia stated that the Second Amendment doesn't confer an unlimited right any more than the First Amendment does.  Oh, and by the way, the word "infringe" doesn't mean to limit or restrict, it means "to abolish."  For that reason, Justice Scalia stated that regulation of firearms is constitutional.  Let's get to the heart of the problem, shall we?  We need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals in the first place.  If you are not on board with that, you are contributing to the destruction of lives.  No quite sure how you can sleep at night. You don't sound like the kind of person who is likely to change your mind when presented with facts, so I'm not going to waste any more time with you.