Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | September 28, 2023

Beyond Thoughts and Prayers: Responding Faithfully to Gun Violence 

Blog|The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi

The University of Texas Tower, Columbine, Sandy Hook Elementary, UN Plaza, Mission Street, or a family’s home. When did the shooting start? And when will it end? 

At the same time The United States faces an epidemic of gun violence, civilian ownership of military-grade weapons has risen to numbers never seen before. This love affair with guns, sometimes cloaked in Christian language or endorsed by Christian institutions, is an affront to the love of Jesus, and the love of neighbor to which every Christian is called. 

The ubiquity of guns leads to more deaths. And each tragic and preventable death is met with a litany of thoughts and prayers. While well-intended and even sincere, these thoughts and prayers alone will not heal the scourge of gun violence. They are not enough.  

Relentless and sometimes sensationalist media coverage of mass shootings also obscures the fact that most incidents of gun violence — 99% of all shootings — include fewer than 4 people. The multiplicity of these shootings adds up. 

This sort of gun violence most commonly happens between people who know each other and who escalate tensions from an argument to a deadly result. But this also means that individuals have extraordinary power to reduce or end violence in their communities. Healing is possible through prayerful action, through sensible legislative reform, through moral leadership and courage. 

This month, CA state legislators passed SB2, which limited concealed carry of weapons in public spaces, including houses of worship. While faithful to “the general welfare,” this legislation is widely expected to be challenged, perhaps even at the Supreme Court. 

The stakes continue to climb higher, and so voices of courage need to be stronger in the public sphere, for the common good.  The Episcopal Church has consistently taken positions to limit and heal from gun violence, with General Convention resolutions dating to 1976.  

In this spirit, Grace Cathedral is embarking on an extended campaign, “Beyond Thoughts and Prayers: Responding Faithfully to Gun Violence.” Through education, the arts, community partnerships, solidarity, and advocacy, we will explore the cathedral community’s role in healing this plague of violence by joining with other concerned communities and by supporting legislation that results in fewer guns on our streets.  

On October 8, at 12:30 pm, join Jahan Fahimi, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at UCSF, whose groundbreaking research and advocacy centers on gun violence as a public health crisis. With cathedral trustee and fellow UCSF faculty and physician Lenny Lopez, Fahimi will reflect on the epidemic and the opportunities for advocacy and reform.

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