Episcopal Church House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and Vice President the Hon. Byron Rushing have issued the following letter to deputies on gun violence.
February 28, 2013
In the weeks since the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the debate about guns in American life and culture has been renewed. Advocates for stricter gun restrictions vow not to let the issue be eclipsed by the next news cycle, and new coalitions of faith leaders and community activists demand that all of us, especially our children, be safe from guns in our homes, communities, and streets.
Since the day when twenty-eight people died in Newtown, more than 2300 people in the United States have been killed by guns. Far too many of the dead are poor, young people of color. They have been dying for years, too often unnoticed, on the streets of Chicago, Baltimore, New Orleans, Newark and scores of other cities and towns. We have not been galvanized as we should have been by the cries of their anguished families and friends. As we work to end gun violence now, we must repent of not having done it sooner.
At its meeting that concluded yesterday, the Executive Council passed a resolution that reaffirms the General Convention’s longstanding support of restrictions on the sale, use and ownership of guns and its commitment to adequate funding for mental health services. The resolution also allows The Episcopal Church to join other faith-based advocates in working to make gun trafficking a federal crime. This will give law enforcement officials the power to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers and their networks. Most of all, it calls on all Episcopalians to work toward ending the cycles of violence that fuel the epidemic of gun crime.
In what remains of Lent, we hope that deputies will help lead the church to fulfill this resolution. In the words of the Executive Council resolution, let us “examine our own cultural attitudes toward violence through efforts in our own congregations and communities, to repent of our own roles in the glorification and trivialization of violence, and to commit ourselves to another way.”
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings The Hon. Byron Rushing
President, House of Deputies Vice-President, House of Deputies
PS Across the church, many coalitions, congregations and dioceses are already advocating against gun violence. We encourage you to learn more about the work and witness of Episcopalians across the church by joining the conversation on the Episcopalians Against Gun Violence Facebook page and on Twitter @TheCrossLobby.