December 14 will be the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church has provided a document that can be reproduced and distributed as a church bulletin insert or distributed in other appropriate venues. Because of my lack of abilities with "pdf" documents, I cannot post a copy of this excellent piece by Bill Mefford, director of civil and human rights of GBCS. However, if you will send me a request by e-mail, I will forward the message to you--or perhaps you can find it at http://umc-gbcs.org.
The insert lists the names of the victims and their ages: all of the 20 children were six or seven years old. The text also gives a prayer that speaks to God of our concern for all families and communities that are victimized by gun violence and asks for moral courage for all of us to work toward eliminating gun violence.
Additionally the insert points out several significant facts.
If you can’t use the entire document, you may use the following text, which is taken from that larger one and may be re-formatted into a two-column, landscape document for distribution among UMW members or the congregation at large. You will likely need to adjust the margins and some settings, including separating the text for two columns which will enable you to print these back-to-back.
December 14 will be the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Violence--particularly violence to children--continues to be a primary concern for United Methodists. In the name of Christ who came "and proclaimed peace to you" and challenged all his disciples to be peacemakers, we call upon the church to affirm its faith through vigorous efforts to curb and eliminate gun violence.
Following is a list of those whose lives were violently ended by the gunman who then took his own life, the children listed first.
Charlotte Bacon Catherine Hubbard Jack Pinto
Daniel Barden Chase Kowalski Noah Pozner
Olivia Engel Jesse Lewis Caroline Previdi
Josephine Gay James Mattioli Jessica Rekos
Ana Marquez-Greene Grace McDonnell Aveille Richman
Dylan Hockley Emilie Parker Benjamin Wheeler
Madeleine Hsu Allison Wyatt
Dawn Hochsprung Lauren Rousseau Nancy Lanza
(mother of gunman)
Rachel Davino Mary Sherlach Adam Lanza
Anne Marie Murphy Victoria Soto
Let us pray. Creator God, we pray today not only for the peace and comfort for the families, friends, and neighbors of those who died in the shooting but also for the Newtown community and for our nation. We pray for the Church to be a vessel of peace and healing in the midst of gun violence wherever it occurs. We pray also for those families and communities that are victimized by gun violence but are out of the glare and concern of the eye of the national media and so for whom our nation does not mourn. Finally, we pray for the moral courage for our elected leaders to do everything in their power to end gun violence. Amen.
Putting Our Faith into Action
Preventing gun violence is multifaceted,
but some steps can lessen the number of gun-related deaths.
Currently, 40% of all gun purchases are made without any background checks. Studies show fewer guns are linked to crime when there background checks are performed, where there is oversight of gun dealers and coordination between state and local law enforcement.There is a link between violence and substance abuse. A 1997 study by the U.S. Dept. of Justice found that over 50% of violence crimes were committed while the perpetrator was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a gun. A 1991 study showed that of the abusers who killed their partners with guns, over 60% used drugs or alcohol that same day.Of the people who have mental illness, an overwhelming number are not prone to violence. So in many ways, these two issues are not linked at all. Among the small number of those who have mental illness and who commit gun violence, most experts agree the answer is greater access to mental health services.
The assault weapon ban had an impact on decreasing gun crimes. Following the end of the 1994-2004 ban on some types of assault weapons, a study showed that the ban had a small but real impact on decreasing gun crimes particularly those involving assault weapons. Authors of the study said that a ban involving more types of assault weapons and on high-capacity magazines would have a greater impact on limiting gun-related violence.Studies linking gun violence and video games and movies is at best mixed. Some studies show that playing violent video games and watching such movies leads to more aggressive behavior. Others, however, show less of a link. No study revealed that violent media reduced gun-related violence.
For more information on how you can help prevent gun violence, contact Bill Mefford, Director, Civil & Human Rights,GBCS of The United Methodist Church. firstname.lastname@example.org.