The gun debate has reached nearly every cohort in America, with politicians, victims of violence and even pastors offering up their ideas about what should be done to prevent murders and mass shootings. Amid the litany of voices, there are some surprising faith leaders calling for universal background checks. Two of the most prominent are the Rev. Franklin Graham and Richard Land.

Known as social (and political) conservatives when it comes to most matters, Graham’s and Land’s stance on background checks may serve as a surprise to some. Considering past disagreements with President Barack Obama’s policies, their views on the contentious gun measure are noteworthy (conservatives have long been highly critical of universal background checks).

Rev. Franklin Graham, Richard Land Back Obama on Universal Background Checks for All Gun Sales

Rev. Franklin Graham (Credit: AP Photo) 

As TIME Magazine notes, Graham, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham and the head of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization, and Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, have been persuaded to back Obama on universal checks. Their decision comes following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

“As ministers, we agreed together that we could stand on a united front for universal background checks,” Graham noted.

But Land cautioned that the checks are not being widely embraced by evangelicals and that Obama will need to tackle the entertainment industry and mental health if he wants additional to support. He also seemed to indicate that universal checks look better on paper than they do in practicality.

Rev. Franklin Graham, Richard Land Back Obama on Universal Background Checks for All Gun Sales

Dr. Richard Land, the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics chief (Credit: AP) 

“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.”

And, perhaps most intriguing, Land suggested that a tax on entertainment violence could be used to help alleviate the violence problem.

“You could tax violence and that money can be used for a special fund to help people who are victims of gun violence,” he suggested.

Despite these issues, Graham and Land decided to stand united in an effort to back universal background checks, with the former telling TIME that the proposal is “reasonable and responsible.”

“There needs to be an all out effort to curtail the culture of violence that effects all of us,” Graham added.

(H/T: TIME Magazine)

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