It is now legal to carry concealed firearms in Illinois. On April 2 the Chicago Tribune reported that the Illinois State Police announced the previous day that they had denied concealed carry licenses to 327 applicants due to inadequate training from a firearms instructor. I appreciate the fact that there are standards.
Back in April I came into work at the churchwide offices to see a sticker on the door of a hand pistol with a red circle around it and a line through it. No firearms are to be carried into the Lutheran Center. A colleague came to my cube and told me the following story that same day. It actually happened.
A man came into the Lutheran Center, saw the sticker and sneered. When asked why he sneered he said he sneered because he was a gun owner.
“Well, this is the national churchwide office and we don’t want guns in the building,” he was told.
The guy scoffed, “Yeah, well, I am a shooter.”
“Well,” he was told, “I fish. I am not in the church building with my tackle box or poles, either.”
I don’t know if there are parts of this story I missed or if parts were left out but I was happy it was shared with me. I am sharing it here because it makes beautiful, yet simple sense. And making sense is important to our future. When the prowess of guns and gun-ownership becomes more important than what makes sense within any given context, we have started down the road of lunacy with gusto.
At Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C., this past March, the theme was “Jesus Weeps – Resisting Violence, Building Peace” and the two asks we took to the Hill were:
- Reduce acquisition and use of guns for purposes that cause harm, and
- Rebalance funding priorities away from out-sized military spending to focus more resources on preventing violence and enhancing human security.
As to that first “ask,” we know that over 30% of our homes with children have a gun in them, many of which are not secured. Over 1,000 U.S. kids under 18 years died from gunshot wounds in 2010 (CDC) and more than 7,000 were hospitalized due to firearm injuries. On average, a child or teen is shot every hour (Yale School of Medicine) and 85% of those children that are shot are shot by another child (C. Barber, Harvard School of Public Health).
At Ecumenical Advocacy Days we did not advocate that all guns be banned, and I am not in this blog asking you to, either. But I invite you to read what we did ask for and to add your voice to these requests.
- We support legislation such as background checks (which 73% of members of the NRA also support), limiting the ammunition capacity and public sale of semi-automatic firearms with detachable magazines, and limiting the acquisition of guns by persons with documented history of violence, or diagnosed with severe mental illnesses and demonstrated violent behavior.
- We want a centralized method to track the number of deaths and injuries by guns in the U.S. whether that is by accident, suicide, or violence.
- We would like to see mandates that keep gun secured in lockboxes, safes, or the like and, we support evidence-based nonviolent methods for prevention and intervention in youth violence.
Please contact your elected representatives—locally, at the state and at the federal levels to let them know which of these measures you support. We can save lives. Life is a gift.
Inez Torres Davis is director for justice.