What More Can We Do About Gun Violence?

From the June 2021 issue of the “Parish Visitor,” the Newsletter of the Federated Church of Orleans, Massachusetts

by the Rev. Russ Allen

On Sunday April 18 I suggested in my comments at the Peace Candle that God might have some things to say about Gun Violence in our country. “What more do we expect God to do to fix our problem?” I asked.

A week later a parishioner called me to ask what she could do to address the issue. I offer the following ten suggestions in response:

Approach Gun Violence personally in terms of your own gun ownership. Do you need the gun you own? Is it licensed? Do you exercise safe gun ownership? Is your need for a weapon real? Why have you chosen not to own a firearm?

Ask your local police chief for a copy of the regulations regarding gun licensing and current statistics. Learn his basis for approving or denying applications. Does he grant licenses based on demonstrated need or the absence of prohibitive reasons? What is his commitment to limiting the number of guns in your community?

Contact local gun shops and clubs and ask about their regulations on purchases or memberships, gun safety education program offerings, and efforts to address Gun Violence. Are they allies in the work of reducing Gun Violence?

Contact local, state, and national elected officials requesting information on pending Gun Violence legislation, studies of the effectiveness of existing laws, and their own positions for use in determining your future political support.

Research existing non-profit organizations that address Gun Violence, including their sponsorship, philosophy, effectiveness, finances, and other factors, to determine which if any you will join or support.

Research the history and statistics of the modern Gun Violence era.

Learn the teachings, position statements, and programs related to Gun Violence developed by UCC and other religious bodies and consider how they might be applied locally.

Network with others who are developing Faith-based responses to Gun Violence.

Initiate conversation with family members, friends and acquaintances who are gun owners and advocates on ways to work together to address the shared problem of Gun Violence.

Pray for the victims of Gun Violence and their families, the perpetrators of mass shootings and their families, our society and its leaders, gun owners and advocates for an end to such tragic events, and any whose lives have been, are, or will be affected by Gun Violence.

Finally, do not assume that Gun Violence is not an issue on Cape Cod. Mass shootings which can and do happen almost anywhere are on a significant increase. In recent years there have been at least three instances of guns being fired in public places in our area. The modern era of Gun Violence that began with the mass shooting at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 continues.

The Rev. Allen encourages congregations to adapt this article for their local use with credit to him as the source.