National Gun Violence Awareness Day recognized with #WearOrange hashtag
by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – Today marks the third annual observance of National Gun Violence Awareness Day. As advocates remember the 138 mass shootings and 6,303 people who have been killed as a result of gun violence so far in 2017, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has released its Gun Violence Prevention Congregational Toolkit.
“This new toolkit updates a previous version and provides new and current resources to those who seek to stand in opposition to the epidemic of gun violence in this country,” says the Rev. Carl Horton, coordinator for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues to call its members to demand sensible legislation and reasonable safeguards to significantly reduce the toll that gun violence takes each year on the people of our nation.”
The cover of the new toolkit features a photo of the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill (Pennsylvania) with 331 crosses covered in T-shirts with the names of gun violence victims in their community. Across the nation, Presbyterians are beginning to discuss and act on the once-taboo topic of gun violence in America. In 2016, over 33,000 Americans died from gun violence and 100,000 were injured.
The revised toolkit builds on and replaces an earlier version from 2009, with the new edition offering more focus on action to prevent gun violence, including sample “No Guns in God’s House” signage for religious properties such as churches, schools, camps and other faith-based facilities. In 2014 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the denomination’s highest body, called for the posting of such signs on church buildings as a witness to the need to reduce gun violence in America.
“If 98 Americans were dying every day in plane crashes — day in, day out, every single day — we would all be talking about it,” says Margery Rossi, chair of the Peace Fellowship’s Gun Violence Prevention Working Group, which produced the new toolkit. “As Americans we must learn about and talk about this issue and not be intimidated by the NRA [National Rifle Association] or the gun and ammunition industry. Local congregations can bring together those who own guns and those who do not to start this conversation and to find middle ground in the search for solutions. We do not have to live this way.”
Horton highlights the other work Presbyterians are doing to raise awareness in the effort to prevent gun related violence and deaths.
“The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has been an excellent partner in our denomination’s efforts to address gun violence,” he says. “They, along with the Peacemaking Program and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, have together sought to provide reliable resources that educate, build awareness and inspire meaningful and effective action by our congregations and members.”
On June 12, 2017, the first anniversary of the Orlando Pulse nightclub mass shooting, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship will announce a national program to help implement the Presbyterian “No Guns in God’s House” signage program.
Formed in 1944, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is a nationwide community of Presbyterians who seek to apply the nonviolence of Jesus Christ to violence in the world today. The PPF works to help implement 50 years of official Presbyterian Church policy in support of reasonable gun laws to prevent murders, accidents, suicides and injuries.
For more information on the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, see www.presbypeacefellowship.org and @PresbyPeace on Twitter.
The 2012 PDA documentary Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence and an accompanying four-session study/viewing guide are available through Presbyterian Distribution Services. Ordering information, study resources and a preview are available at the documentary site. You may also contact Presbyterian Disaster Assistance at 1-888-728-7228, ext. 5839, or PDA@pcusa.org for the password-protected link.
You may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.