On February 22, Bishops United Against Gun Violence sent the following letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris, offering thanks for their support of sensible gun reforms and pledging to support their leadership on this issue. A copy of this letter was also sent to all members of Congress.
Dear President Biden and Vice President Harris:
On behalf of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a network of more than 100 bishops in The Episcopal Church representing more than 1.1 million Episcopalians in more than 4,200 congregations spread across 314 Congressional districts, we write to thank you for your longtime support of sensible gun violence measures. We are grateful, especially, for your recent call to Congress to enact background checks on all gun sales, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminate immunity for gun manufacturers.
Thank you, too, for your pledge to take executive action when necessary to stop gun violence, and to establish a task force to focus on the connection between mass shootings, online harassment, extremism, and violence against women. We applaud these efforts and ask that you and your administration urge Congress to enact the kind of powerful legislation we need to save the lives of more than 37,000 Americans who now die each year from gun violence.
We stand ready to assist your administration in advocating for and serving as champions for policies that can help end what we call the unholy trinity of poverty, racism and gun violence. To this lifesaving work, we bring strong partnerships with national and community gun violence organizations across the country and an engaged network of Episcopalians in our congregations and communities. Together, we seek to witness to our belief in a God of life, even in the face of death.
In our struggle against the evil of gun violence, we offer several contributions:
We provide spiritual support for those living with gunshot wounds, with grief, with fear and with the temptation of hopelessness. We advocate for broader and easier access to mental health services for those at risk of suicide.
We teach, bringing an ethic of Christian compassion and concern for the common good to bear on debates regarding unjust economic and legal structures, public safety, individual rights and our responsibilities to one another as children of God.
We hold public liturgies—vigils, processions, and prayer services—to commemorate the dead and inspire the living.
With the support of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations in Washington D.C., we are persistent advocates for common sense gun safety measures like background checks, holding gun manufacturers accountable, closing the Charleston and hate crime loopholes, and other policy proposals that you have outlined in your gun violence platform.
Although the last four years have brought little progress toward curbing gun violence, we commend House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro and former chair, the Honorable Nita Lowey, for their perseverance in securing $25 million in the FY2020 appropriations bill for gun violence prevention research following their March 2019 hearing on the public health aspects of gun violence. We encourage this federal investment in public health research that can help safeguard the lives of all of God’s people in the United States while respecting the Second Amendment, and we urge you to allocate more research funding in future budgets even as we work together to enact your legislative agenda to end gun violence.
Thank you for your commitment to this holy work. We look forward to working together.
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas
Episcopal Church in Connecticut
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G.P. Gutiérrez
Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller
Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, resigned