By Susan Bender, Chair,
Gun Violence Prevention Team
Our hearts cry out for the recent shooting victims in Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa, and all around our conference. Gun violence is a complicated issue and there is no simple answer. That doesn’t mean we should accept that nothing can be done about it. Here are some actions to take no matter where you are you on the political spectrum- some involve political advocacy but many do not, only “open hearts and open minds”, as our United Methodist Church tagline says.
We can all agree people are hurting and there are things we can do right now to help. Even if they don’t solve the entire problem, they can make it better. In followup to Bishop Easterling’s message to intentionally take some action, I urge all our churches to raise awareness of the toll, and the many different forms of gun violence. Learn more on the BWC"s Gun Violence Prevention page.
Actions to Pursue
- Safe Storage Saves Lives -- If you own a firearm, lock it up. Not only do children accidentally shoot themselves or others with unsecured guns in the home, but teens in the home can take guns to cause harm to themselves or to others. The Sandy Hook school shooter used a family gun.
- Share the gun violence safety cards with others. You can order some to handout at events.
- Help families of survivors – share the Giffords/Survivors Empowered toolkit
- Use Extreme Risk Protection Orders (“red flag laws”) – both Maryland and DC have these laws. Learn how to use them if you are worried about a friend or loved one having access to firearms to harm himself or others.
- Help mentor our youth in a path of nonviolence and get involved in community violence prevention programs.
- June 5-10, visit the Giffords Memorial to gun victims on national mall (45,000 roses for each gun death in 2021)
- Sat June 11 – March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.
To support federal legislation:
Call or email your US Senators (find your Senators here www.senate.gov and ask them to:
- Pass Ethan’s Law - Requiring safe gun and ammunition storage (HR 748 & S 190)
- Institute National Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) so that individuals who are a danger to themselves and others can have their guns temporarily removed with due process protections
- Confirm Steven Dettelbach as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). A strong leader is needed to help the ATF get tough on trafficking in stolen firearms.
- Pass the two Criminal Background Checks bills (HR 8 & HR 1446)
- Support the Break the Cycle of Violence Act that would invest $6.5 billion in community violence intervention
- Make gun manufacturers and dealers subject to civil lawsuits for their reckless marketing policies- like tobacco companies and opioid manufacturers are. Currently the gun industry is protected from such lawsuits while taxpayers pick up the bill.