Hearing Other Voices on Guns and Gun Violence
The Fellowship of Reconciliation welcomes President Obama’s proposals for reforms to address our nation’s epidemic of gun violence, and urges members and friends to convey support for these proposals to elected officials.
Gun industry representatives and advocates for broad access to powerful firearms have been vocal and well-financed in the construction of public policy. It is time for other voices to be heard as well.
We believe that more guns are not the answer to the fear that many Americans feel, especially in the wake of the Newtown massacre. This country suffers from 32 gun murders every day of the year, and twice as many are wounded by gunshots.
FOR supports local actions to challenge unrestricted gun sales and remember those killed daily by firearms, such as the vigil at the gun industry’s annual Shot Show in Las Vegas this week.
FOR also helped organize the public destruction by Mexican gun violence victims of an assault weapon in Houston last summer.
Contact us if you wish to organize something in your area.
Thousands of ordinary Mexicans are also suffering the consequences of the unrestricted sale of military-style weapons in the United States. Most guns used by Mexican criminal organizations are purchased easily on the U.S. commercial market. Of nearly 100,000 firearms recovered at crime scenes in Mexico in the last five years, more than 68% were purchased in the United States.
We favor universal background checks for firearms purchases, and a federal ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as ending the freeze on gun violence research and better tools for enforcement of laws related to gun crime. A recent study (PDF) shows that lifting the assault weapons ban in 2004 led to thousands more murders in Mexico in the four years that followed.
Together with Mexico’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity and many U.S. organizations, the FOR has campaigned for executive branch actions to curb gun trafficking into Mexico. We’ve been cited on National Public Radio and the International Business Times. Last week, our coalition partners in Washington and Mexico City delivered a petition to President Obama with more than 50,000 signatures from both countries, urging him to ban the importation into the United States of assault weapons, many of which are purchased here and easily transported to Mexico. We have also supported the national boycott of Starbucks calling for a policy than bans guns from the premises of their stores.
We share the skepticism of many Americans, including activists seeking police accountability and some pro-gun advocates, of the increased militarization of police agencies across the United States. We call for redirection of those resources to public education, mental and physical health, housing, and other social and human needs for our communities.
We do not believe that armed responses to the abuses of the State are either sensible or ethical. Those who believe that an AR-15 will defend them or make them prevail in a conflict with police forces are mistaken. And the use of arms in response to every conflict undermines democratic processes for seeking justice and conflict resolution. Communities of color are disproportionately devastated by the easy availability of firearms in our country.
Like all rights, those conferred by the Second Amendment are not absolute, but should be regulated in light of the human costs of making military-style guns easy to obtain.
We agree that our society must offer greater attention and care to mental illness; however, the need to address gun control immediately is urgent and imperative. The easy availability of firearms, especially those that facilitate rapid fire, makes violent crimes committed by criminals or those with mental illness more deadly. For example, the same day as the Newtown massacre, a mentally unstable man in China (where gun possession is restricted) attacked schoolchildren with a knife. There were 22 injuries, but no fatalities.
Our society and our policy-makers should take a less violent path. We urge you to engage your family, your neighbors, your local and national representatives, your newspaper, for an evidence-based conversation about replacing guns with social skills and addressing our needs and fears by dedicating resources to health, education, justice, and other social programs.
Resources for further information:
Top graphic produced by War Resisters League.