“What can someone like me possibly do?” This question is echoing in the minds of Americans as they absorb the news of another mass shooting. For many of us, quiet reflection and prayer are all we can bring ourselves to do right now. Let’s not dismiss thoughts and prayers as insipid or inadequate. For faithful people, they are a refuge rather than a retreat to a place where, as the letter to the Ephesians suggests, we go to be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Faithful people have always played an important role in moving our country forward in dark times. Few people go to church these days to win the good citizenship award, but the truth is that God does equip us to be engaged citizens and community leaders. We can check up on friends and neighbors in grief or at risk, practice responsible gun ownership, listen to the voices of children, and yes, send the umpteenth letter to our elected representatives.
Speaking of which, The Episcopal Church advocates at the national level for common sense firearms legislation and violence prevention. The church recognizes gun violence as a public health problem rooted in despair and discrimination, as well as an oversupply of dangerous weapons. The Episcopal Church has endorsed legislation before Congress to extend the Brady Act background check requirement to private sales and licensed dealers and allow more time for background checks to be completed.
The Episcopal Church supports “permit to purchase” laws that require gun buyers to complete firearm safety training, “red flag” laws that allow the authorities to take away weapons from individuals who present an imminent danger to themselves or others, adequate funding for mental health services, school safety, and anti-bullying programs, and research to help us understand which gun violence interventions are effective.
People like us can speak up. We can lead by example. Our children will know that we were not silent. Learn more about The Episcopal Church’s work in advocating for gun violence prevention and how you can get involved.