Living in the United States, with our gun culture, is difficult for those who believe in peace and nonviolence. The debates quickly become partisan and generate deeply emotional responses.
There is a reason so much of these debates are simply based on opinions. Because the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been among those intensely lobbying, successfully, to forbid the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to fund any research related to gun violence.
“Infuriated by CDC-funded research suggesting that having firearms in the home sharply increased the risks of homicide, the NRA goaded Congress in 1996 into stripping the injury center’s funding for gun violence research – $2.6 million. Congress then passed a measure drafted by then-Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) forbidding the CDC to spend funds ‘to advocate or promote gun control.’ ”
The NRA has blocked gun violence research for 20 years. Let’s end its stranglehold on science, Los Angeles Times, June 14, 2016
Most of my career was spent in medical research and I feel strongly about the unbiased study of a question, to seek the truth. We should strongly advocate for funds and a mandate to the CDC to study the causes of gun violence, so we have actual data from which we can formulate policies to reduce it.
Chris Letts, FCNL, just wrote a powerful post, The Sickening Toll of Gun Violence, that begins “The gun violence epidemic is both a public health crisis and a troubling reflection on our country’s spiritual state. As we seek policy solutions to reduce deaths from guns, we must also look critically at the culture that enables so many people to kill each other with guns.”
Friends are encouraged to speak against proposals based upon the false premise that more weapons, such as arming teachers, will provide greater safety, when the opposite is true. Friends are encouraged to advocate for legislation to remove the weapons of war from civilians by reinstating the ban on assault weapons.
Perhaps most important at this moment Friends should be publicly supporting our youth as they speak truth to this issue today. This is on opportunity to invite our young Friends to lead these discussions and actions in our meetings and schools, and stand with them in their public witness.
FCNL suggestions for speaking to Congressional representatives about gun control:
I am horrified and appalled by the mass shooting that occurred in Florida. I am also outraged by the broader epidemic of gun violence in the United States. In our country, 100 people are killed with guns every single day. That is not acceptable.
Congress has a moral obligation to act. I support gun violence prevention through gun control. Please reinstate a ban on assault weapons and prevent access to military-style weapons that make mass shootings more deadly.
You are encouraged to share your story related to gun violence with the Friends Committee on National Legislation. https://act.fcnl.org/letter/gun-violence-prevention/
It is by sharing our stories that change is created.
Following is the Advice related to peace and nonviolence from Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative):
12. PEACE AND NONVIOLENCE
“[We] seek to live in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars.” George Fox
We seek peace within our own lives. Sometimes there are barriers to peace within families and meetings, and among individuals. Anger and frustration may result in hurtfulness which leaves physical, sexual or emotional wounds. Healing and forgiveness are possible when our hearts are opened to the transforming love that comes from the Spirit Within. The violence we oppose is not only war, but all unloving acts.
Friends seek peaceful resolution to conflicts among nations and peoples. Wars can easily erupt when nations depend upon armed forces as an option for defense and order. To oppose war is not enough if we fail to deal with the injustices and inequalities that often lead to violence. We need to address the causes of war, such as aggression, revenge, overpopulation, greed, and religious and ethnic differences.