Now back from Spring Break, I once again reflecting on MCPC’s Immersion Weekend. The theme was pulled from our common text, “Living Without Enemies.”
A good portion of the book details vigils organized by Marcia Owen (one of the book’s authors) of the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham. These vigils are held for victims of gun violence in the location or community in which the shooting occurred.
Friday night, the weekend started with Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine,” a documentary attempting to explain the correlation between fear in the United States, guns, and gun violence. After the first hour of the film we lengthy but lively conversation about guns in the U.S. and whether or not current policies should be reformed and, if so, how. Whether or not minds were changed that night, I’m sure all of the students were challenged to think and evaluate their beliefs on gun control.
The next morning we spent some time personally investing in our community by cleaning it up.
Unfortunately, after less than an hour… it started to snow.
Saturday afternoon, Fred Kauffman, Program Coordinator from the Mennonite Central Committee in Philadelphia and Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Heeding God’s Call came to speak with us about the topic of gun violence.
They addressed the lack of policies Pennsylvania has that would prevent “straw buyers,” from purchasing multiple semi-automatic and automatic guns.
To help us better understand this, Bryan asked for volunteers to act out straw buying. Pete and his “girlfriend,” Zach then demonstrated how easy it is for someone who isn’t even allowed to buy guns to get multiple ones with little hassle by having another person sign for them.
Bryan then told us how Heeding God’s Call has acted to make straw buying more difficult by getting Pennsylvania gun shops to sign codes of conduct where it is a known problem. His group will then follow up with protests at the shops that refuse, twice a week, until change occurs. Bryan told us how we, as students, can get involved and demonstrated that big changes can be made even by those who aren’t necessarily seeking to change the law.
For me, this topic became even more real when this past week there was a couple that lived on Cecil B. Moore that suffered from gun violence. The father was murdered and the wife left in critical condition. Would this have happened if PA had stricter regulations on assault weapons? If we learn anything as MCPC students, it is that we should care for those in the city around us. They are not only our community, they are our neighbors. As Christians, I think we need to be especially aware of what’s going on in regards to gun violence. We cannot sit passively by while there are so many lives squandered as a result of gun violence. We need to find what can be actively done to protect our brothers and sisters and bring God’s will to earth as it is in heaven.