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Gun Violence Prevention

Breaking: Bishop, parish respond to shooting in Thousand Oaks

Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor has offered the following statement and prayer in response to last night’s Borderline shooting that killed 12 and injured others in Thousand Oaks, a Ventura County city within the Diocese of Los Angeles. The Rev. George Daisa, rector of St. Patrick’s Church in Thousand Oaks, has been assisting in local pastoral care and will participate in a vigil planned for 6 p.m. this evening at Thousand Oaks City Hall, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd. Information on this and other vigils is here . Resources of the ongoing diocesan work in gun violence prevention can be found below.

A statement by Bishop John Harvey Taylor
“The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles joins in mourning the victims of the Borderline shooting in Thousand Oaks and offering words of comfort and support to their families and those who were wounded. This act of anger, hatred, and violence reminds us of Jesus Christ’s invitation to his realm of forgiveness, love, and peace. We make our way there together by merciful acts of prayer and consolation and then resolute acts of justice and mercy: Advocating along with Bishops United Against Gun Violence for common-sense reforms; supporting organizations pledged to serve veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq who are battling trauma and the effects of moral hazard; and working to erase the stain of social isolation by making our churches and other faith institutions places of connection and care for all people.”

A prayer by Bishop John Harvey Taylor; text also posted earlier today on social media
“Merciful Creator, in moments of unendurable loss, especially when your creatures act toward one another with murderous anger and hatred, it is hard to remember that we are made for love, saved by love, and bathed in love; may your eternal, unfailing, and immediate rebuke to hate with love and darkness with light illumine and comfort all those who have been wounded in body and spirit by the shootings at Borderline in Thousand Oaks. By the grace of your Spirit, even on this day, may we make progress along the Way toward your kingdom of peace. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who bore all these wounds. Amen.”

Engaging Congregations of the Diocese in Gun Violence Prevention

Gun violence takes the lives of 85 people every single day in this country.  Our faith traditions, sacred texts and baptismal covenant all call on us to engage in peacemaking, and in actions that honor the worth and dignity of every human being.  This epidemic of gun violence calls out for bold and faithful action.  The Diocese of Los Angeles and the Program Group on Peace and Justice provide these resources to engage individuals and parishes in sustained action to help prevent all forms of gun violence: crimes, suicides, domestic violence situations, and unintentional shootings.

The mission of the Program Group on Peace and Justice Ministries is two-fold:

(1) to encourage and support the many people, congregations and groups in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles to work for peace and justice (we do this by providing resources, networking opportunities, and information);

(2) to promote a diocesan presence on important issues of peace and justice in the local, national, and international spheres.

Gun violence prevention is a key priority.

Gun Safety Information

By accurately framing gun violence as a public health epidemic we can more easily look more broadly at the wide range of prevention strategies and incorporate those into our congregation.

Consider these statistics:

— 85% of youths under 18 who died by firearm suicide used a family member’s gun, usually a parent’s.

— 68% of school shooters used a gun from their own home or that of a relative.

— 60% of all child and teen gun deaths happen in a home.

— Prohibiting access to guns by children is a crucial step in reducing gun violence.

The ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign:  Because unsecured guns can result in unintentional shootings, often involving children, this national campaign encourages parents and others with children in their care to raise the issue of safe storage of guns when they send a child to play in another home.  The ASK materials include brochures and posters that can be obtained from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, ksimon@bradycampaign.org

Episcopal Groups Engaged in Gun Violence Prevention

  • Bishops Against Gun Violence is an ad hoc group of nearly 60 Episcopal bishops who have come together to explore means of reducing gun violence and to advocate for policies and legislation that saves lives:  www.bishopsagainstgunviolence.org/

This group has published a paper in support of universal background checks: www.bishopsagainstgunviolence.org/universal-background-checks-for-gun-purchases/

  • Episcopalians Against Gun Violence is an ad-hoc group of bishops, clergy and lay people disseminating information about Episcopalians who are working, collectively and individually, to curb gun violence.  While they do not have a formal website you can find them and “like” them on Facebook and on Twitter at @TheCrossLobby.
  • Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Gun Violence Prevention Working Group as a range of resources:  www.epfnational.org/what-about-guns/
  • The Joint Episcopal-Lutheran Gun Violence Prevention Task Force

    Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Southwest California and Pacifica Synods, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    History: The Joint Task Force was formed as a result of a Resolution at Diocesan Convention adopted December 5, 2015.

    Mission Statement:  Consistent with our mutual baptismal covenant to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being, the Joint Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention educates, engages and equips our communities for sustained effort to prevent the epidemic of gun deaths and injuries.  

    Gun Violence Prevention Toolkit available here.

Regional Gun Violence Prevention Organizations

— Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has chapters throughout California.  You can contact a chapter near you:

www.bradycampaign.org/california-chapters

— Women Against Gun Violence, a Los Angeles based organization, has a Speaker’s Bureau, and sends out e-newsletters with information about important actions and local events.  wagv@wagv.org, 310-204-2348.  By signing up for the e-newsletter you will get information about local events and timely actions.

Faith-based Resources for Worship Services, Vigils and Remembrance Events   

Christian Worship Resources is the Children’s Defense Fund’s 40-page collection of liturgies, litanies, prayers, and scripture readings, some of which focused on gun violence. An Episcopal liturgy for the Children’s Sabbath and a Litany on the Tragedy of Gun Violence are included.

www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/2013-sabbath-manual/documents/sabbath-2013_christian.pdf

This guide to help faith leaders speak to congregants about gun violence prevention is a publication of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence:

www.faithsagainstgunviolence.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GVP-Faith-Leader-Guide-Sept2014.pdf

A range of faith-based resources, including a number of sermons from Episcopal congregations, is available at the March Sabbath website:

www.marchsabbath.org/#Christianity

A Litany on the Tragedy of Gun Violence

www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/peacemaking/pdf/litany-on-the-tragedy-of-gun-violence.pdf

 

Interfaith Resources on Gun Violence Prevention

Interfaith statements on gun violence prevention are included in the guide from Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence.

A Covenant of Commitment

www.heedinggodscall.org/sites/default/files/4_pink_Covenant_of_Commitment_to_Act_to_End_Gun_Violence__ver2.pdf  

 

Study Guides

Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s guide for several sessions of discussion, “Gun Violence Prevention”, is available for $7.50 through the EPF store:

www.epfstore.myshopify.com/products/gun-violence-prevention-curriculum

“Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call”, is a study guide that provide an extensive faith-based foundation for engagement in this work.  It can be ordered or downloaded here:

www.pcusa.org/resource/gun-violence-gospel-values-mobilizing-response-god/

 

The Second Amendment

The Second Amendment is frequently mentioned as a barrier to reasonable, sensible gun control legislation.  This is in fact not the case at all.  The Supreme Court ruled on the Second Amendment in 2008 in the case Heller vs. District of Columbia.   That ruling guides the capacity to enact gun safety and gun control legislation.  The majority opinion was written by Judge Anonin Scalia, and in part states:

2. Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose:  For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
[…]

A factsheet on the Second Amendment from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco:

www.smartgunlaws.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/2nd-Amendment-Fact-Sheet.pdf

“The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms” is a presentation on the Second Amendment by Adam Winkler, UCLA Law professor, constitutional scholar, and author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.  This presentation was given at the Rector’s Forum at All Saints, Pasadena, on May 12, 2013.  

www.allsaints-pas.org/archives/forums/battle-over-the-right-to-bear-arms.htm

Take Action

  1.  Include gun violence prevention in sermons, litanies and prayers.
  2. Invite a speaker and hold a discussion on gun violence prevention.  Resources for speakers include Women Against Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign.
  3. Establish a Gun Violence Prevention Task Force or Committee in your parish, or include as part of your parish’s peacemaking agenda. 
  4. Hold a discussion series using one of the faith-based Study Guides listed above. 
  5. Show a film and hold a discussion.  “Living for 32” is a DVD featuring Colin Goddard, who survived the Virginia Tech shootings and is now a gun violence prevention activist.  This film shows why universal background checks are so essential.  //livingfor32.com/
  6. Make gun safety information and materials like those from the ASK Campaign  available in your parish and preschools.
  7. By signing up for the “Take Action” alerts of gun violence prevention organizations you will receive information about timely, effective actions that you and your parish can take.  The following are sources for news and action alerts:

Women Against Gun Violence, www.wagv.org

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, //www.bradycampaign.org

Moms Demand Action, //momsdemandaction.org

Everytown, //everytown.org

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, //csgv.org

The diocesan Peace and Justice Program Group is available as a resource to your congregation. Contact: Virginia Classick, vclassick@aol.com or 818-225-0410. 

The Program Group on Peace and Justice Ministries is a Program Group of Diocesan Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.  

 

Contacts

 

Chair

Ms. Patricia Terry

Member, St. Cross Church, Hermosa Beach

Diocesan Coordinator for Millennium Develoment Goals

scottclayton1@msn.com

 

Canon Robert Williams

Cathedral Center of St. Paul, Los Angeles

Diocesan Staff Liaison

rwilliams@ladiocese.org

 

Regional Co-Conveners

 

CENTRAL

The Rev. Francisco Garcia

Associate, All Saints Church, Pasadena

 

Ms. Patrica Terry

Parishioner, St. Cross by-the-Sea, Hermosa Beach

 

EAST

The Rev. Mark Hallahan

Rector, St. Paul’s Church, Pomona

 

NORTH

The Rev. Julie Morris

Chaplain, Abundant Table, Ventura

Interim: St. Michael’s University Church, Isla Vista

 

Ms. Virginia Classick

Parishioner, All Saints Church, Pasadena

 

SOUTH

The Rev. James Lee

Assisting, Church of the Messiah, Santa Ana

Lay Representative: in transition 

 

Members-at-Large

Mr. Francisco Garcia, All Saints, Pasadena

Archeacon Joanne Leslie, St. John’s ProCathedral, Los Angeles

 

Consultant

Ms. Virginia Classick, All Saints, Pasadena