By Alberta Farnsworth, Desert Southwest Conference Lay Leader
As a Mom and a Grandma, I found myself wanting to see everyone in my family this week. Just see for myself that they were safe. I have 5 grandchildren, all of whom attend public schools. The schools they attend are more fenced in and less open than any I attended and with the horrible events in Texas on May 24th, it is obvious why. May 2022 saw people shot while grocery shopping; people shot while attending religious services, and children shot (and the teachers trying to protect them) while attending school. These are the shootings that got the whole nation’s attention. There were many others; the United States of America is home to many shootings. I find it difficult to understand why irresponsible gun ownership is so prevalent. How is it possible that people can be unaware of the harm caused by irresponsible and in many cases, mentally ill gun users.
Our Conference has a Gun Violence Awareness Task Force.
This task force invited those of us who were able, to join in a vigil on May 25 in memory of lives lost to gun violence. I was not able to attend, but my local church, St. Mark’s UMC in Tucson had a Prayer service which I was able to attend via Zoom (I am visiting Maryland right now).
Doing a little research, I found that The Book of Resolutions has some interesting and usable “talking points” when discussing the issue from a United Methodist perspective.
From the Book of Resolutions:
The United Methodist Church urges “congregations to advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence.” Some of those measures include:
- Universal background checks on all gun purchases;
- Ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty;
- Ensuring all guns are sold through licensed gun retailers;
- Prohibiting all individuals under restraining order due to threat of violence from purchasing a gun;
- Prohibiting persons with serious mental illness, who pose a danger to themselves and their communities, from purchasing a gun;
- Ensuring greater access to services for those who have a mental illness;
- Establishing a minimum age of 21 years for a gun purchase or possession;
- Banning large-capacity ammunition magazines and weapons designed to fire multiple rounds each time the trigger is pulled;
- Promoting new technologies to aid law-enforcement agencies to trace crime guns and promote public safety. (Book of Resolutions, 3428)
An additional resource, I remembered that The General Board of Church and Society developed a 3 session study: Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities in 2016. The study spoke to the issue of gun violence then and still speaks today. That resource is still available at https://www.umcjustice.org/what-you-can-do/advocacy/resource-kingdom-dreams-violent-realities-bible-study.
Praying for the safety of all God’s people.
Alberta Farnsworth DSC Lay Leader