Hostilities in our hearts and lives

On Ash Wednesday, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) issued a Lenten reflection on gun violence prevention. The reflection calls for inward reflection as well as external action to address gun violence in our society.

Policy changes alone will not end gun violence in the United States. But a review of 130 studies in 10 countries suggests that stricter gun policies lead to a reduction in gun deaths. Policy proposals in the U.S. context include expanded background checks, safe storage laws, mandatory reporting of lost or stolen weapons, and a ban on assault weapons. Proposals such as these would not infringe on the rights of hunters, while helping to reduce the likelihood of gun deaths.

In late February, the House passed two gun policy bills. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8) would require background checks for all firearm sales, including private, online and gun show sales. The second bill, H.R. 1112, would extend the amount of time allowed for carrying out background checks to 10 business days. A companion bill to H.R. 8 has been introduced in the Senate (S. 42).

The impact of U.S. guns also spreads beyond our borders, as the U.S. exports more guns than any other country. Recently, the Trump administration announced changes to make it easier to sell guns overseas. The changes would reduce oversight and accountability for the sale of small weapons and ammunition. Legislation has been introduced to block these changes (H.R. 1134, S. 459).

Caption: RAWTools, an MCC U.S. partner, helps prompt conversation about violence related to guns by holding educational events where they turn guns into garden tools. RAWTools photo/Coe Burchfield
More information:
A garden tool was made from the barrel of this gun at a RAWTools event in Chicago as songs, art, stories and scripture were shared.
MCC partners with RAWTools to hold PeaceMaker ceremonies in which a gun is forged into a garden tool, as well as provide space to discuss how violence impacts those around us and how we can respond in love.
RAWTools is an organization that partners with communities in an effort to repurpose weapons for productive lifelong purpose.They want to be comprehensive in their efforts to move our communities away from gun violence and violence as a whole. Their goal isto help teach each other new ways to solve our problems through relationship, dialogue, and alternative means of justice.

As MCC’s Lenten reflection says, “We may not all agree on how best to regulate guns, but we commit to remaining in conversation. Furthermore, we can agree that the killing of God’s children is wrong. In this Lenten season, we invite you to join us in prayer, education and action regarding hostilities in our hearts and lives.”

Here are some steps you can take during this season of Lent:

Together we can work toward a life-giving future for all of God’s children.