Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church stands against gun violence and the glorification of weapons. As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to value the holiness of every human life. We believe the pervasiveness of violence within our culture mixes with high rates of anxiety and depression, racism, and other forms of discrimination and systemic issues to cause the high rate of gun deaths in America we have today (100 Americans die each day by gun death). We will work to diminish the number of gun homicides, suicides, and mass shootings not by advocating for the removal of all guns, but for safer gun culture and legislation in America. We partner with the local chapter of Moms Demand Action, showing up when they call rallies and vigils and paying attention to their asks from officials as we shape our asks.
Called to be Peacemakers Addressing Gun Violence
Last year, the pandemic pulled back the curtain about many social issues. Acts of violence and police violence led to a new wave of Black Lives Matter protests that have increased community organizing around systemic racism. The pandemic, also, disproportionately affected people of color. It was so clearly on display how disproportionately vulnerable communities of color are because of healthcare bias and economic disparity. In addition, we saw a rise in violence, particularly gun violence last year. There are few social issues the pandemic did not lay bare.
Locally, Lexington has set a homicide record this year, 32, as of mid-December. At least 26 of these were gunshot deaths. Nationally, incidents of almost every kind of gun related violence has risen since 2014- deaths both homicide and suicide, children and teenagers killed or injured, and mass shootings. This year will be another record setting year. The number of children under the age of 12 killed or injured through gun violence in 2014- 594; in 2020 so far- 935.
After a string of teenage deaths in Lexington due to gunfire in August, Mayor Gorton held a press conference and said, “I don’t want to simplify a complex issue.” In many ways, gun violence in a complex issue. There are many things that could and do put people at greater risk of being a victim or being violent themselves. In other ways, the issue of gun violence is simple. As people of faith, we chant along with activist groups around the country, “the violence must stop!” For the sake of everyone, but especially the most vulnerable, those at greater risk of committing or experiencing gun violence.
The General Assembly of our denomination (the national governing body) approved and published recommendations in the packet, “Gun Violence, Gospel Values,” concerning gun violence in 2010 that had 16 parts to it (there’s lot of work to do with regulating guns as they are barely regulated and highly integrated into our culture). Number 4 of the recommendations reads:
“That the church liturgies not only call for periodic preaching on gun violence but also contain prayers for the victims and perpetrators of gun violence and confession of our own complicity in the perpetuation and toleration of violence in all its forms in the culture.”
Over the next three months, Maxwell Street’s social justice committee hopes to fulfill that recommendation. We are planning accessible, online ways to learn more about the victims of gun violence and the lasting, rippling trauma they experience, as well as the perpetuators and the risk factors that can lead someone to violence against self or others. We hope this will lead us to greater understanding of the rising violence, action, prayer, and a deeper wisdom about what our own faith (which has its own violent roots) has to say about violence.
Please prayerfully enter into this time of confession, learning, compassion, and action with us and look out for ways to participate in January, February, and March.
Writing or Calling Officials
A group of Maxwell Streeters are writing to officials after every deadly mass shooting, please join us, and let Rachel (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you’d like to be on the email list. Please also write or call whenever you feel called.
When calling or writing to officials, it is best to limit your asks to 1-3. Below is a list of possibilities. Select the ones that mean the most to you when you call or write to your elected officials so that you can speak with the most passion and care.
• Elimination of high capacity magazines
• Elimination of assault weapons
• Cease taking money from NRA
• Red Flag Laws
• Universal Background Checks