The massacre in Orlando has resulted in the country yet again going into its now too common rhetoric of the need for “gun control.” We have developed a patterned, predictable response to these acts of terror and violence. We even now have a definition for mass shootings: “Four or more killed in one incident.” This definition conveniently excludes the many killings that occur in the inner cities of this country on a daily basis—incidents that often claim one, two or three lives—despite the fact that as many as twenty people might be killed in a single weekend.
Recently, I was in Kansas City attending a church leadership training when I noticed a sign with a gun and a line through it posted on the glass doors of the church. I immediately thought it was a joke: Who would ever think of bringing a gun into a “house of worship?” A building where, in the past, the doors were typically painted red so that people would know that a safe sanctuary awaited them inside. How can a church be a safe sanctuary if guns are allowed inside? This is a sad statement about who we are and our relationship with guns.
In several of my sermons I have quoted statistics regarding how many children and adults who commit suicide yearly use handguns. One day, I realized that I if I truly believed in sensible gun regulations then I needed to do more than just “talk about it;” indeed, I had to “be about it.” That is why I stand in silence at the Crossroads Gun Show that is held four times a year at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Gun shows provide firearms enthusiasts with opportunities to get around certain gun laws; for example, the amount of ammunition that one can legally purchase. It’s very disturbing to observe people purchasing ammunition in such high quantities that they require a luggage carrier or dolly to take their loads out to the parking lot. Additionally, at the gun shows you can purchase equipment needed to modify a legal weapon into an assault weapon.
I am not a stranger to handguns and rifles. As an investigator, I was allowed to, and did, carry a concealed weapon. I earned a “Marksmanship” ribbon while in the Naval Reserves using an automatic 9MM handgun. I learned how to break down and reassemble a rifle. With my background and familiarity with guns, I do not understand why anyone would need or want a weapon that could rapidly discharge fifty rounds. The only logical purpose is to massacre a large number of people, which is precisely what happened in Orlando, Sandy Hook and other mass-shooting locations.
There is pending legislation in both the California Assembly and Senate to address these and other loopholes in gun ownership and ammunition purchases. I remain hopeful that they will pass so that California can remain one of the most restrictive gun ownership states in the country. Our goal and fight must be for common-sense gun and ammunition ownership laws on a federal level. We need to be as organized—financially and politically—and relentless as the NRA.
Parents, before you allow your children to attend a sleepover, ask the hosting parents if they have firearms in their home, and if so, how they are secured. Based on their responses, you can decide whether the environment is acceptable.
Please join me at the next Crossroads Gun Show at the Cow Palace on September 17–18, or do whatever is comfortable and authentic for you to prevent another Orlando or Sandy Hook massacre, a suicide, an accidental death of a child who comes across a gun, a domestic-violence death, a stray bullet in a drive-by… The list of chilling incidents is a long one.
Please do something.
By Reverend Angela Brown, JD, GLIDE Associate Pastor. Prior to joining GLIDE, Rev. Brown was the first woman to serve as the Senior Criminal Investigator for the San Francisco District Attorney. She is a retired Commander in the US Naval Reserves, having served in South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and throughout naval bases in the US. In addition, she is a retired Assistant District Attorney in San Francisco. At the 2016 United Methodist Church General Conference, Rev. Brown was elected as a Second Clergy Alternate Justice to the UMC Judicial Council.