Gun Violence Prevention
"More than ever before, it seems we are responding almost weekly to news of another
mass shooting. Anytime violence happens anywhere, at a church or other house of
worship, a school, a grocery store, a concert, we feel the pain, the horror and the
outrage in a deep and personal way. A steady drumbeat of gun violence is unfolding
with increasing frequency, an alarming and consistent threat to personal and public
We cannot allow the volume and frequency of these events to leave us feeling numb and powerless...It is time to step outside our comfort zone. It is time to put our thoughts and prayers into action. It is time to bear witness in the public square that our country’s tolerance of inaction to this violence is itself a form of collusion with such violence. This is our call as followers of Jesus. This is what it means to become a disciple, making a difference. "
- From the Bishops' Pastoral Letter (June 26, 2022)
VISION: WORKING TO REDUCE AND PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE
In response to the horrific events of gun violence in recent months, the Rt. Rev. Sam Rodman and the Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple announced the creation of a task force dedicated to the work of reducing gun violence.
The hope of the group is to focus on issues where the Diocese of North Carolina might affect change, either in a leadership role or in partnership with others. Among the areas explored for task force leadership:
- Identify advocacy opportunities
- Explore partnerships with organizations already engaged in the work of reducing gun violence
- Education around the role of mental illness, behavioral health challenges and other factors in gun violence
- Share resources to educate and assist churches in developing safety plans, including engagement with local law enforcement for consultation
- Develop a long-term plan to build a sustainable infrastructure to position the Diocese for ongoing calls to action, programs, education and advocacy
WAYS TO GET INVOLVED
There are a lot of ways you can help reduce and prevent gun violence
- Stay in touch with your government representatives
- Encourage your church to organize a gun buy-back event
- Get involved in a community violence intervention program
- Learn about the role of mental illness, behavioral health challenges and other factors in gun violence
- Sign up for action alerts to lend your voice when it's needed
- Plan events around days observing gun violence awareness
- National Gun Violence Awareness Month (June)
- National Gun Violence Awareness Day/Wear Orange (First Friday in June)
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING NOW
There is a lot of legislation happening on multiple governing levels, yet each session does tend to have a focus on a specific set of policies related to gun violence prevention. Here we share what we're watching during the upcoming or current legislative sessions; if you feel called to share your voice, we encourage you to contact your government representatives.
- NC General Assembly (as of March 1, 2023)
- The potental repeal of any form of repeal of NC's Pistol Purchase Permitting (PPP) system. Statistics prove that states with PPP-like systems in place have lower firearm homicide and suicide rates.
- Funding support for community violence intervention programs, which focus on outreach, mediation and intervention with individuals at high risk of violence. Existing programs have proven highly effective, but more are needed.
- Episcopalians help launch national gun buybacks to turn weapons into garden tools (ENS, April 26, 2022)
SHARE YOUR WORK
If your congregation or ministry is involved in the work of gun violence prevention, be sure to share it in your entry on the Episcopal Asset Map. To share your work:
- Visit your listing, click "More Details" and then "Update This Place."
- Once you're in your listing, go the "Ministries" section and add the work you're doing, selecting "Other" and entering "Gun Violence Prevention" as your "Other Ministry Type."
- If the system requires a second ministry category (it may or may not), please choose "Advocacy."
- Hit "Save and Submit" when you're done).
Gun violence prevention is not yet its own ministry option, but the map developers are tracking the work taking place, and the hope is that when there is enough of it, gun violence prevention will become a category all itself. Please help make it happen by sharing the work you do!
RECOMMENDED READING, LISTENING & WATCHING
- The Trace (site dedicated to news coverage of gun violence)
- The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment by Thom Hartmann
- A Well-Regulated Militia by Saul Cornell
- Episode: Racism and the Second Amendment with Dr. Carol Anderson | Podcast: Now and Then with Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman
- Podcast: The Reload
- Podcast: Red, Blue & Brady
- Go Deeper - Public Health: Johns Hopkins Briefing on Solutions for Gun Violence in America