‘Rev, did you see Sarge’s letter to the editor in today’s paper?” Alice smirked as she poured coffee for the men’s fellowship group last Wednesday. “Boy, did he ever stick it to you.”

“Letter?” Pastor Walter Mitty hadn’t had a chance to look at that morning’s issue of the Poplar Park News.

“Yeh. You know that letter that you and the other pastors printed in last week’s News? Where you said you forming this group you were calling LIFE, and you were going to try to get the village council to ban all guns in town? Well, Sarge really blasted you guys on that one.” Alice strode triumphantly to a family that had just sat down two booths away.

“Who’s Sarge?” asked Dominique.

“He’s the owner of the army surplus store two blocks east of here,” Ash replied.

“The one who always wears an army helmet when he’s riding his bike,” Eric added. “And I just happen to have a copy of the paper with me.” Six eyes watched as Eric Anderson searched for the page the Gazette entitled its OP/ED SECTION.

“Here we go … Let’s see … OK. ‘In reference to the letter signed by all the pastors in town announcing the creation of their so called LIFE committee, I am announcing the formation of the CHOICE task force for the purpose of defending our Second Amendment rights here in Poplar Park.'”

Pastor Walt shook his head. “After what happened at Virginia Tech, I didn’t think there would be anyone against gun control.”

“I’m with you, Pastor.” Eric looked up from his reading.

“Yeh, I know.” Dominique broke in just as Eric was warming up for a speech. “Growing up in the projects, we saw a lot of guns. Got so we kids could tell you what gun was being used just by the sound of it. We’d hear a pop and say ‘that’s a Makarov’ or hear a bang and say ‘sounds like a 9mm Browning.'”

“What else does Sarge say?” Mitty urged.

Eric looked down at his paper. “‘It’s a matter of no one being able to tell me what I can and cannot have. It’s not gun owners who kill people. It’s gun owners who break the law. If we were to have a gun ban in Poplar Park, the only people who would have guns would be criminals. It’s just like prohibition in the 1920s. Booze was outlawed but drinking kept happening and the big winner was organized crime.'”

“I hate to say it, but he’s got a point there,” said Ash.

“But, Ash, what’s wrong is wrong. If Jesus taught us anything it’s that violence doesn’t solve anything.”

“You know what’s wrong with religious people and educated folk?” Alice asked the four men as she came to take their orders. “They have this need to tell other people how to live their lives.” She looked down at her pad as if she were ready to take their orders and then looked up again. “Kind of arrogant if you ask me.”

The men’s group chewed on what Alice had said along with their toast, but Pastor Mitty kept thinking.

People are dying because there are so many guns around, he thought. Doesn’t there come a time when you no longer have the right to choose? What he decided to say out loud was, “What else does Sarge say?”

“He goes on to write that countries like Finland, Sweden and Germany are among the top 10 nations in terms of the number of guns per household,” Eric replied, “but those countries are also among those with the fewest deaths from firearms.”

Pastor Walt felt exhausted when the men’s breakfast group broke up around 9, but feeling the sunshine on his skin revived him a bit, and he decided to stop by the Retro and chat with Zaphne for five minutes. “I just think that sometimes the needs of society have to trump what individuals want to do,” he kept saying to himself as he walked on the sunny side of the street.

“Hey Rev,” said Zaphne as Pastor Walt walked up to the counter where she was opening some boxes. “I’m glad you stopped by. You hear about that Supreme Court ruling on partial birth abortion? You give those pro-life people an inch and they’ll take a mile. Would you mind signing this pro-choice petition?”