Gun Violence Prevention
| The Diocesan Response to the Shooting at Saugus High School
The Episcopal Diocese of LA was heartbroken to hear of the tragic shooting in Santa Clarita on the morning of November 14, 2019. Our Diocese, Bishop, and local congregations offer prayer and support:
Bishop John Taylor:
Almighty God, relentless champion of justice and the innocent: We pray this morning for those who have been killed and injured in the shooting at #SaugusHighSchool in Santa Clarita, their families, and those who mourn and care for them. Send your wisdom and discernment upon all who have it in their power to deter and prevent recurrences of such horror. Help them understand that they are your servants and servants of the governed and that you do not abide their distractions, evasions, and deference to earthly powers, principalities, and values. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirt, one God, now and forever, Amen.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Santa Clarita:
The entire community of St. Stephen’s offers its prayers and support to all those impacted by the tragedy at Saugus High School. As we seek to deal with the grief and shock of this senseless act of gun violence, we will be gathering for a service of prayer and lament tonight November, 14th, 2019 at 7PM in our sanctuary. We welcome all those of every faith to join us in the comfort of community to reflect, grieve and lift our hearts and voices in prayer.
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, firstname.lastname@example.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:
— 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. email@example.com, 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.
This guide to help faith leaders speak to congregants about gun violence prevention is a publication of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence:
A range of faith-based resources, including a number of sermons from Episcopal congregations, is available at the March Sabbath website:
A Litany on the Tragedy of Gun Violence
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
Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s guide for several sessions of discussion, “Gun Violence Prevention”, is available for $7.50 through the EPF store:
“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:
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:
“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.
- Include gun violence prevention in sermons, litanies and prayers.
- Invite a speaker and hold a discussion on gun violence prevention. Resources for speakers include Women Against Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign.
- Establish a Gun Violence Prevention Task Force or Committee in your parish, or include as part of your parish’s peacemaking agenda.
- Hold a discussion series using one of the faith-based Study Guides listed above.
- 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/
- Make gun safety information and materials like those from the ASK Campaign available in your parish and preschools.
- 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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Ms. Patricia Terry
Member, St. Cross Church, Hermosa Beach
Diocesan Coordinator for Millennium Develoment Goals
Canon Robert Williams
Cathedral Center of St. Paul, Los Angeles
Diocesan Staff Liaison
The Rev. Francisco Garcia
Associate, All Saints Church, Pasadena
Ms. Patrica Terry
Parishioner, St. Cross by-the-Sea, Hermosa Beach
The Rev. Mark Hallahan
Rector, St. Paul’s Church, Pomona
The Rev. Julie Morris
Chaplain, Abundant Table, Ventura
Interim: St. Michael’s University Church, Isla Vista
Ms. Virginia Classick
Parishioner, All Saints Church, Pasadena
The Rev. James Lee
Assisting, Church of the Messiah, Santa Ana
Lay Representative: in transition
Mr. Francisco Garcia, All Saints, Pasadena
Archeacon Joanne Leslie, St. John’s ProCathedral, Los Angeles
Ms. Virginia Classick, All Saints, Pasadena