Reflections on the Peacemaking Pre-Conference Workshop

Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call

The gathering of Presbyterian peacemakers in Indianapolis got started last week with a pre-conference workshop “Gun Violence, Gospel Values:  Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call.”   It was a tough 6 hours, and my thanks to the leaders for that.  The statistics were troubling, and there were plenty of them, grim numbers of which we must not be aware, otherwise we surely wouldn’t accept them.  If you want to see for yourself, visit The Brady Campaign.   They’ve got more than enough evidence of the epic and epidemic proportion of gun violence in this country.    There’s also a pretty compelling video from Fix Gun Checks Now that would be worth watching. 

In the workshop we reviewed issues of accessibility of guns, gun sales, existing gun laws, and types of guns that can be sold.  We learned about assault weapons, automatic weapons, semi-automatic weapons, and high capacity magazines. We were told about the gun show “loophole,” in which private collectors can sell guns without background checks.  We heard about straw buyers, those who legally purchase guns for illegal gun traffickers, sometimes even walking into gun shops alongside  the known illegal trafficker.   As each bit of gun reality was shared, I shook my head with incredulity, sighed with despair, gasped with astonishment at what I was hearing.  It was enough to make you mad; mad enough to …well, do something. 


Sometimes we who are Presbyterian opt to do nothing, living up to our “frozen chosen” moniker.  We don’t only fold our hands piously, we sit on them.  But, on this topic, we who are so institutionally-grounded need to get a move on.   We need to join the growing movement to end gun violence.  Heeding God’s Call is such a movement.  In short order, this group of faithful people of faith has made its mark and had an impact on the trajectory of gun violence.   They’ve intervened in the operation of a notorious gun shop in Philadelphia, they’ve expanded their movement into additional cities; and they are building momentum in the faith-community to prevent gun violence. 


Clearly the issue of gun violence crosses, like a bullet, across any and all barriers that may divide people.  It impacts any of us, all of us, and the costs of this escalating reality are staggering.  In lives lost, in dollars spent; it is both a human issue and an economic one.   How strange that a gun – the very thing that tears us apart, and is perhaps the greatest of power differentials – might actually bring us together around a common cause.

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