IGRC retired pastors pen letter on gun violence
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A pair of IGRC retired pastors have authored a letter on the gun violence and are urging legislative action to address the recent shootings in the United States – “self-inflicted” and “willful” violence by fellow Americans.
Rev. Miley Palmer and Rev. Howard Daughenbaugh are the primary authors of the letter, which is offered as part of a national movement called Demand A Plan, which sought to have 1 million signatures on a petition within the first month following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
In addition to Daughenbaugh and Palmer, the letter is also signed by the following persons: Rev. Jim Bortell, Roberta Bortell, Rev. Paul Unger, Judith Unger, Rev. John Robert McFarland, Rev. John Hartleroad, Judy Hartleroad, Peggy Scott, Steve Gossard, Kathy Gossard, Rev. Terry Clark, Janice Clark, Rev. Larry Lawler, Rev. Leah Pogemiller, Larry Bross, Carroll Bross, Rev. Burt McIntosh, Rev. Mike Jones, Rev. David Gaffron, Dr. Geoffrey L. Story, Bettie W. Story, Dr. Bob Hathway, Barb Hathway, Carolyn Yockey, Bill Miller,
Martha Miller, Rev. Clyde Snyder, Rev. Gene Mace and Sally Mace.
For Rev. Palmer, his wife Janet, and for the Maces, the issue of gun violence took on personal meaning when the Palmers’ and Mace’s granddaughter, Ryanne Mace, was one of five victims when a gunman entered a lecture hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University five years ago Feb. 14.
“It would be inexcusable for our society and, most of all, for the church to remain silent on the issue of gun violence in our midst. To do nothing or to do anything that will further arm our society is unconscionable and unfaithful,” the letter said. “Following the course of silence or the path that further encourages the development of an armed society does not enhance public security; it only increases the possibility that further tragic events will happen among us.”
The letter offers a 12-point plan aimed at addressing the issue. They include:
- The enforcement of present laws, particularly in bringing the data base of prohibited gun purchasers up to date.
- Extending present laws to cover all gun purchases, particularly at unlicensed firearms sales venues such as gun shows – and subsequent re-sales of those weapons in future years.
- Creating new laws to limit the sales of assault weapons, automatic weapons conversion kits, weapons that cannot be detected by metal-detection devices, and ammunition such as “cop-killer bullets” that are obviously designed to wreak massive damage on human victims; they are not for hunting game.
- Passing federal legislation to regulate the importation, manufacturing and sale of guns and ammunition to the general public.
- Developing (possibly through the United Nations) a legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the transfer of all small arms and light weapons so as to reduce gun violence throughout the world.
- Bringing together mental health professionals, educators, and clergy, along with other appropriate groups, to initiate a national dialogue concerning the care of mentally and emotionally disturbed persons.
- The easy availability of guns needs to be addressed.
- A dialogue about the violence-obsessed culture in our nation. Surely the excessive depiction of violence in our mass media (movies, TV, video games, etc.) has an impact on our children and youth.
- Churches need to initiate dialogue within their own congregation and in their own community about gun safety, violence prevention, and what adults can do to help keep our children safe.
- A call to pastors to take leadership in their teaching role to help the congregation and community enter a dialogue about a wide-spread ideology in our nation that peace and justice can only be secured by violence.
- Churches and educators should come together with law enforcement officials to discuss issues of keeping our children, schools, and churches safe from gun violence.
- Churches and health care professionals also need to come together to discuss plans for helping children, families, and communities cope in the wake of publicized mass killings in schools and other public places.
“Many of these ideas are found in The Book of Resolutions, but more than any resources is our heritage of faith formed by scripture, tradition, reason and experience,” the letter concludes. “If we learn nothing else from these resources, we should learn that maintaining the status quo or further arming our society are not the answers. We don’t have to start from scratch in talking about (the issue). Let us keep the conversation alive and the pursuit of creative answers progressing.”