UNITED METHODIST WOMEN
SOCIAL ACTION, NC DISTRICT
JUNE 2016, 2nd edition
I’m sure all of you are well aware of the tragedy in Orlando, Florida: the worst mass murder in our nation’s history.
Politicians, theologians, political scientists, rhetoricians—professionals of all kinds—are talking about the various ways discussion of this event can be framed. I am certainly none of these. But I am a United Methodist woman of some years of age and Methodism, and this I know: Our Christian mandate is always to show love to our neighbors. We may disagree with them vehemently, but our charge is to love them anyway.
I also know that, inasmuch as none of us can know the heart of another, we need always guard our own hearts and seek to stay in love with God. So we of the UMW join thousands around the world in mourning the senseless and violent deaths of so
many people and the untold grief and pain of their families and the survivors.
It seems clear that one of the motives in this tragedy was hate of “the other.” Regardless of our personal opinions about the LGBTQ lifestyle, I’m certain all of us understand our faith and our Biblical command to love one another… and certainly our very clear commandment of “Thou shalt not kill.”
I understand that our General Conference has decided to study the issue of homosexuality further. We can rest assured that the result will be in line with our avowed position of loving one another and “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.”
In addition to the hate-filled prejudice evident in the killing, we still have the issue of gun accessibility. One of the guns in this event was an AR-15, an automatic assault rifle. According to lawyer Josh Koskoff, the AR-15 "was designed for the United States military to do to enemies of war exactly what it did this morning: kill mass numbers of people with maximum efficiency and ease. That is why the AR-15 has remained the weapon of choice for the United States military for over 50 years. It is the gold standard for killing the enemy in battle, just as it has become the gold standard for mass murder of innocent civilians."
The AR-15 is the same style of weapon used to slaughter 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. Earlier that year, James Holmes used an AR-15 to murder 12 people and wound 70 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
The CEO of Sturm, Ruger, and Co., one of the nation's leading manufacturers of firearms for the commercial sporting market, assured shareholders a month ago that, although demand for their product was “easing,” they should anticipate higher gun sales during the election season, as the “rhetoric from both sides” will “[keep] consumers aware and thinking about their firearm rights.” He added that “If the political environment in this election year causes one or more strong spikes in demand, we may stretch our capital expenditures budget to take advantage of the opportunities presented.” In other words: Yes, words matter. They raise fears—and they help to increase profits!
Semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 were, at one time, banned nationwide. The 1994 federal assault-weapons ban prohibited most versions of the rifle from being sold in the U.S. The gun re-entered circulation after Congress allowed the ban to expire in 2004. Subsequent efforts to renew the ban, or create other legislation that would limit assault weapons, have been unsuccessful.
Surely we need to re-evaluate the process for buying at least assault weapons like this.
And it may be that the Orlando event concerns mental health issues. At the UMW Legislative Event of 2016, an issue of our final Agenda included “mental health and preventive health services.” We need to be proactive and urge our state and national legislators to move aggressively in all areas of health care.
Contact your legislators to let them know of your concern in these areas: hate crimes, gun accessi-bility, and wholistic health care.
Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation regulating payday lending to some degree. I’m sorry I don’t have details. I hope the legislation is close to the resolution introduced by the CFPB, that I mentioned in my last handout. Contact your senators to urge them to pass this legislation when it goes to that body. *************