Serve the World
Gun Violence Prevention Promise
The Baltimore Book of the Dead, by Marion Winik:
One day my neighbor took me with her to something called a shooting response. It was just a couple of miles from our house, on a corner in East Baltimore. Right there, a few days earlier, a high school senior had been shot in the face, though there was nothing in the back pack the killers took but a change of clothes. Now there were sixty people assembled, friends, family, neighbors, teachers, and members of an organization called MOMS, Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters. This Baltimore-based association is open to all: Whether your child is killed by the cops, the dealers, the gangs, or the racists, you can join.
People brought boxes of white candles and Mylar balloons. They taped photos to a brick wall and placed tea lights on the sidewalk. Then his mother, a young woman with a turned-up nose and gold highlights in her long, loopy waves, arrived and they handed her a microphone. Last Thursday started out like any other day, she said, telling her boy to do his chores, trying not to be late for work, missing a call from him on her phone, and by the end of it, finding herself in a hospital emergency room, realizing by how people were treating her that her son must be dead.
At seventeen, she told us, she had walked across the stage at her own graduation pregnant with her boy. They grew up together. He had quit school for a while himself, overwhelmed by deaths among his peers and the general negativity about his future, but he went back and would have graduated this past June. The two of them planned to go together to community college. Lord, are you serious? She said. All these years I fought for my son? All the times I told him stay off these streets? All these people who loved him? My neighbor and I were the only two white people at this gathering, but when tears started pouring down my face, a tall young man put his arm around me.
A few months later, the boy’s mother attended his graduation, where he was awarded an honorary diploma. According to the Baltimore Sun, he was the fourth of five students from his high school to be killed during his school year. Look beyond the boundaries of Baltimore, one of the teachers urged the graduates. Their mothers must be thinking where?
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. – 1789
In 1872, following the horrors of the Civil War, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was formed to fund training programs and promote firearm safety, since most of the soldiers had been allowed, if not encouraged, to keep their weapons and such weapons would become part of their household possessions. Fast forward about 100 years to 1968.
After the assassinations of JFK, MLK and Malcolm X, Congress passed major laws regulating gun ownership and sales. A growing group of hardliners, however, moved the NRA to take a more active role, staging a coup in 1977 to oust the leadership and shift the focus to defending the more individualistic interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that we know today. So that in 1980, its platform became: We believe the right of citizens to keep and bear arms must be preserved. Accordingly, we oppose federal registration of firearms.
However, Justice Warren Burger was incensed about that, and Justice Antonin Scalia, in introducing DC v. Heller in 2008, had this to say about it: The next section of our opinion points out that like most rights, the 2nd Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever, in any manner whatsoever, and for whatever purpose.
It is perhaps no surprise that the NRA trotted out its usual platitudes after the latest rash of killings, but can we be cautiously optimistic at hearing the recent news about financial and leadership troubles raising their heads once again in the NRA? Are we turning another corner in the long road back to a sensible gun culture in this country?
We encourage our congregation to get involved. Come to our monthly meetings usually held on the third Sunday after the service in the World Room. Join us on Facebook to stay informed of our progress in promoting Gun Safety. Or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dorothy Wait, chair