Commentary

This morning’s “must reads” on America’s gun violence crisis

Here are two hopeful reads to start your Friday regarding the United States’ absurd, NRA-constructed gun violence crisis:

#1 is this morning’s lead editorial in the Charlotte Observer“Let’s get logical about guns.” After pointing out that Democrats have made minor headway in pushing for a couple of small but important expansions of federal background check and anti-terror requirements (over NRA opposition) in the U.S. Senate, the the authors put it this way:

“The difference this week, of course, is the massacre of 49 people Sunday at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. Although the Orlando shooter wasn’t currently on a watch list, his purchase of an assault-style weapon illustrates how easy it is for a lone-wolf ISIS sympathizer to get armed for a similar shooting spree.

Terrorist groups have noticed. “America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms,” an Al Qaeda spokesman said in a 2011 recruitment video that encouraged the purchase of weapons at gun shows. “What are you waiting for?”

Lawmakers can make such purchases more difficult by giving the FBI the ability to prevent gun sales to people it believes might engage in terrorism. Yes, the government’s terror watch list is imperfect; some on it have no links to terrorism. That’s why at least one bill this week – from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein – allows those people to challenge their status quickly in federal court.

But let’s take the watch-list gun bill to the next logical step….

If lawmakers want to better protect Americans from gun massacres, they need to do more than just close the so-called terror gap with gun purchases.

They need to expand background checks to gun shows and online sales, so that people legally barred from gun ownership (such as felons and the mentally ill) can’t buy weapons.

They need to ban high-capacity magazines, as some states have already done.

Finally, they need to ban assault-style weapons, which have no useful purpose in civilian hands.

Americans agree with all this, and parts of it overwhelmingly. We want to be safe from those who intend to mow down innocent people. It doesn’t matter if those shooters are on a government watch list. It shouldn’t matter to lawmakers.”

#2 is this brief note from the good people at North Carolinians Against Gun Violence about this weekend’s “Stand-up Sabbath” event:

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the shootings that killed nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. On June 17th, 2015, a young white supremacist shot and killed nine grandmothers, fathers, sons and daughters during a Wednesday evening bible study session.

Less than a week ago, in the early hours of June 12th, a man walked into an LGBTQ-friendly night club in Orlando with an assault rifle and murdered 49 people, injuring even more. The nation is still absorbing the scale of the Orlando shootings. People of all walks of life are finding ways to grieve together, and calling on our leaders to act to prevent the next mass shooting.

This weekend, we are calling on faith communities to join in a Stand-Up Sabbath. Communities of faith have a critical leadership role in the nation’s response to these atrocities, both in providing comfort and healing, and in creating supportive, non-political spaces for members to earnestly contemplate the problem and possible solutions.

Here are some of the ways your place of worship can participate:

1) Let the members of your faith community know about the Stand-Up Sabbath by sharing the bulletin insert from the NC Council of Churches, located on their website.

2) Remember the victims of the massacres in Orlando and Charleston, and all victims of gun violence, with prayer during regular worship services.

3) Hold a special service focused on messages about faith and trust vs. fear and violence. Liturgical resources for Christian communities of faith are available here.

If you have questions about how your place of worship can participate in the Stand Up Sabbath and/or if you are able to participate, please contact us at ncgv@ncgv.org.

 

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