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Posts tagged ‘Gun control’

Philadelphia Performance Protest against Gun Violence

On March 29, Heeding God’s Call, held their Fifth Annual Good Friday Procession and Vigil to protest the continued gun violence in the city. Nearly 200 worshippers gathered late in the afternoon at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, where worship services began, and then “en masse” marched to Benjamin Franklin High School on North Broad Street for  the vigil.

Healing Presence Choir2

The Tabernacle United Choir and Arch Street Methodist Choir joined the Healing Presence Singers under the backdrop of the Common Threads Mural, which is representative of hope for the future. Holly Phares directed the choirs during the ecumenical service that included guest speakers from several faith-based organizations and  families who have lost children to gun violence. By joining together, the worshipers affirmed that it is possible for citizens to fight for legislation and social policies that would help bring peace to our streets and homes.


According to CNN, Philadelphia has one of the worst homicide rates in the country, with more than 80% of these crimes committed with a gun.

A young, black man, has a greater chance of being shot and killed in Philadelphia than he would have if  he were a soldier serving in the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq,

An average day in US has 30 gun-related murders with another 162 wounded  based on the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, 53 people kill themselves with a gun each day. Our homicide rate of 4.7 murders per 100,000 people is one of the highest of all developed countries. Unfortunately, statistics of these daily tragedies mean little in the public consciousness and only when mass shootings occur, do citizens begin to take notice. This outrage that follows these shootings is followed by frustration as law-makers, indebted to the gun lobby, block even the most sensible gun restrictions, such as high-capacity magazines. If the Tucson shooter had only ten bullets, Christina Taylor Green would be with her family today.

At the rally in Philadelphia, parents of children who were killed by guns spoke of their loss.

While this was a peaceful demonstration, just a day before mothers in Indiana had to stand in defiance in front of a line of armed men carrying AR-15 semi-automatic weapons. The moms, advocating for restrictions on purchases of high-capacity magazines and legislation requiring background checks on gun sales, were protesting in front of the Indiana statehouse. An armed opponent admitted that his rifle was loaded. Some might argue that the Indiana protest was also peaceful, but the potential for violence, either because of accident, mental instability or provocation, undermines the tenants of democracy to live free from the threat of gun violence.

Numbers to reach US Senators at this link.

Gun Control, A Citizen Speaks Up, Part 8

Christmas Day 2012

The National Rifle Association’s 4 million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters join the nation in horror, outrage, grief and earnest prayer for the families of Newtown, Connecticut . . .

Wayne Lapierre, NRA Press Conference, December 21, 2012

Outrage?, grief? Really?

Last summer my great niece, Valeta, aged 4, and I had a conversation about sincerity and what that means. Seems like a complicated subject for a four-year old, but she listened intently to my explanation of what it meant to be sincere. I told her about the frog I have in my garden. He is called the “Heartfelt Frog” for he holds his hands to his heart and looks up toward the sky. I explained to Valeta that sincerity means honestly saying how you actually feel and how the frog earned “heartfelt” because his sentiments came from his heart. I demonstrated by placing my hands on my heart. Valeta immediately shadowed my actions and held her hands to her heart.

Five months went by, and one day Valeta asked my sister, her grandmother, if she could visit the heartfelt frog in my garden. We live a long distance from each other so this Christmas I painted her a picture for her room.


Does the spokespearson for the NRA feel a sense of true loss for these families? These losses are tragically painful. And if the NRA’s response was truly heartfelt, they would assume responsibility to correct the injustice of these deaths. Does the NRA understand that their actions in support of all weapons is responsible for the deaths of 30,000 people in the United State every year? Being heartfelt means that an utterance of expression of grief and outrange translates to acts that promises reconciliation and correction.

A four-year old can understand this; for the the NRA, they are forever locked in their selfish pursuit of pleasure at the expense of the on-going tragedies of gun deaths for the rest of us.

Gun Control, A Citizen Speaks Up, Part 7

Christmas Eve 2012

Although I’m not a religious person, still, I enjoy all the carols of season. I’m very familiar with first two versus of Away in the Manger, but when I heard the third verse on the radio today, my mind turned to the children of the Sandy Hook School.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.


Gun Control, A Citizen Speaks Up, Part 5

Hunting is a cruel sport. Hunters maim and orphan animals; many injured animals slowly stave to death. One moment an animal is living and breathing on this earth, and in the next minute they are lying cold on the ground. Recreational hunting is unethical for it is taking a life for personal pleasure. I would also argue that for the hunter, this is not a socially redeeming activity.

When I observe other mammals and their behavior, it is obvious that we are very closely related to them. Mothers nurse their young. Animal parents fiercely protect their offspring and teach them skills for their survival. Animals seem to grieve. Animals cry out in pain and comfort each other.

We would not kill our pets. Laws protect pets from abuse. Then why would we kill animals of similar intelligence and sentience?

Leg hold traps, a form of hunting, are still in use today.  The poor animal suffers for days at the trap.  Many animal rights activists have succeeded in banning such torture machines because we have become more compassionate toward our fellow creatures. Just take one quick peak at this video of a mother otter with her baby, and yet no so long ago she would be trapped or shot. Can we really look at this video and think that was ever ok?

My hope is that someday all hunting will be viewed as cruel, and laws that protect our pets will also protect our wildlife.

Gun Control: A Citizen Speaks Up, Part 4


over 500 children a year will walk into oblivion from gun fire

The Ethics of Gun Control: Answering to a Higher Calling

The Dalai Lama equates ethical behavior and non-harming. Ethical conduct avoids suffering. We will achieve true happiness when our actions reflect compassion and do not hurt others.

How do we think about situations in which our happiness conflicts with the happiness of others? Does our happiness cause others hurt or anxiety, and in turn does that hurt to others come to haunt us? We must come face to face with how our actions and desires affect our fellow human beings. We must remain compassionate and carefully consider how even sacred traditions and long-held beliefs may be detrimental to others. This rethinking takes time and calls for the rejection of many thoughts and understandings that we might hold dear to us. We might consider how our past entitlements have caused injury or hurt to others or to ourselves.

Gun Control: A Citizen Speaks Up, Part 3


Photograph: J. R. Blackwell

On Friday evening, December 14, I went to bed with a migraine as I continued to be haunted by the thought of parents grieving for their children killed at the Sandy Hook School. Gazing at my Christmas tree, I thought about the holidays ahead, the gifts that will remained unopened. A tragedy of this magnitude affects all of us. For me, a debilitating headache; for those families, a debilitating heartache.

The only thing that cures my emotional overload is taking action. I’ve always been a gun-control advocate; now has to be the time to address the injustice of unregulated gun purchases.

One of my friends of Facebook asked: “Those kids, Why little babies?” My response: Because the sale of deadly firearms has been ok with us.

That response triggered a flurry of comments:

“Stop trying to advance your political agenda at the expense of this horrible tragedy. Instead of trying to politicize it.”

But victims of shooting crimes were speaking out that very night against gun violence, and an email from Roxanne Green, whose daughter was killed in the Arizona shooting stated, “I’ve heard a lot of promises from politicians since my daughter was murdered in Tucson, Arizona, including President Obama. But I am still waiting for them to act.” Steven Barton, wrote the same evening of his harrowing experience of being shot during the Batman movie, stating: There was no action taken to make sure that something so horrific never happened again. Washington avoided starting a meaningful dialogue on gun violence, and the costs of that were tragic.

I cannot presume in one post to solve this problem of gun violence. I propose a series of questions to consider:

  1. Over thirty Americans are murdered with guns every single day. Our broken laws remain ineffective, and our political leaders have been unable to stop gun violence. What can citizens do to mobilize for gun control?
  2. Has the “right to bear arms” morphed into an American obsession and addiction? Is an accurate interpretation of the Second Amendment entitle citizens to own guns and is this right absolute?
  3. What role has the NRA and other gun lobbyists played in thwarting the “will of the people” to regulate guns, as polls show the Americans support specific policies regulating guns. Why are lobby groups given this power?
  4. Does the American health care system support those afflicted with mental disorders? Is there widespread support to help those with mental disabilities and their families? In what places does our system fall short?
  5. What specific regulations could be passed immediately that most citizens would support?
  6. Would criminalizing verbal threats to life and identifying individuals who display dangerous and violent behaviors, preventing access to firearms be an effective strategy?
  7. We are a world community.  How do we address war and violence sanctioned by the state?
  8. How do we examine our culture to determine how the society encourages violent solutions and reactions?
  9. Why not pass laws that make it illegal not to have guns locked and secured and keys unavailable to anyone but the owner with huge fees and penalties for breaking these laws? Why not mandate that gun owners carry mandatory insurance?
  10. How does the freedom to own guns impose on the freedom from the dangers that guns bring to the public?
  11. How do we educate folks to seek answers to this complex problem.  One Facebook response, the tragedy “had nothing to do with fire arms.” Why are segments of the American population in denial about our gun culture?

We do know that if the current state of gun regulation remains the same, these shootings will continue to happen over and over and over again.

Gun Control: A Citizen Speaks Up, Part 2

Birthday today . . .  my present to myself.IMG_1554

Gun Control: A Citizen Speaks Up, Part 1

motherandchild 2

Photograph by J. R. Blackwell 
Mother and Child, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

Your kingdom come . . . on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 ESV

Those of us who abhor weapons of all kinds are forced to capitulate to reasoned approaches to gun control.  I want to yell out, “Just melt down every blasted weapon on this earth.”

I can’t imagine that there is any kind of killing in heaven. We might aspire to that.

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