Rev. Angela Brown on A March For Our Lives and Leaving a Legacy of Peace
In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida and the epidemic of gun violence in this country, we sat down with Rev. Angela Brown, Associate Pastor at GLIDE Memorial Church, to discuss what we can do to end gun violence, and why we should stay hopeful and loving.
Why has gun control been a consistent focus of your advocacy work at GLIDE Church?
Rev. Angela Brown: From my perspective, it’s such a simple fix for such a dire problem: sensible gun laws. I’ve backed away from saying all guns should be banned; I know that’s not realistic in our country, but there is no reason that one should have an assault weapon. You don’t even use those things for hunting. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how someone can justify having an assault weapon or having clips that can hold 12 or more bullets at one time.
We usually only talk about the lives lost, but we don’t talk about the number of people that were injured. In Las Vegas, over 800 people were injured. Nobody thinks about that. These are people that are going to have to re-live that episode for the rest of their lives, and their lives are forever changed. Some of them will have permanent physical and emotional disabilities from that shooting. And also the ongoing medical expenses for some of those people. There were fundraisers for the Las Vegas survivors for that reason, because not everyone has medical coverage.
We think of the loss of lives, which in and of itself is horrible. But then you have the walking wounded from these incidents that sometimes we forget about.
The only way we’re going to solve any of the problems we have right now is to take the time to listen. We may not agree, but if we just deal with each other on a human level and see that we have more in common than not, we can really begin to make a change.
Can you talk about how gun control advocacy is connected to GLIDE’s work as a whole?
Rev. Brown: Just relating to people on a human level and wanting harm not to come to people. When you’re talking about unconditional love, it seems like a natural fit.
I used to do silent vigils at the gun show in Daly City, and it ended up being another way to understand some of the people that I normally wouldn’t run into or have a conversation with. It really caused me to pause, and not be judgmental, and listen to them. I didn’t agree with them, I didn’t agree with their fears. But I had to acknowledge that the fears were there’s, and that for them it was legitimate to buy assault weapons. Sometimes they weren’t able to articulate what that fear was, but I could not say that it was illegitimate because it’s their fear.
That’s why right now our country is so polarized — we don’t listen to one another. We’ve labeled people red or blue, conservative or liberal, and there is no discussion. The only way we’re going to solve any of the problems we have right now is to take the time to listen. We may not agree, but if we just deal with each other on a human level and see that we have more in common than not, we can really begin to make a change. I have to say my experiences at the gun shows ended up being a benefit for me and for my personal growth.
What are some of the policy initiatives that we should be aware of regarding gun control?
Rev. Brown: We must make sure that the laws on the books are enforced. The Trump administration is playing a game of states’ rights vs. federal rights. They want the federal government to have control over some issues, such as immigration. But on others, specifically on gun issues, they want to give rights back to the states. They are proposing that the laws that are the least restrictive on the right to carry a gun extend to other states. For instance, in Kentucky all you need is a driver’s license to be able to carry a gun. Then somebody moving from Kentucky to California could say, well, Kentucky has given me this right. You have to agree with it because it’s the law of Kentucky and that’s the lowest denominator. That’s the lowest level of restriction.
We need to think about what kind of culture and legacy we are creating for the generations to come.
So, they’re saying that somebody can move their gun across state borders?
Rev. Brown: Yes. As strict as California may be, if somebody carries a gun in Kentucky or Tennessee or any other state, they have the right to do that here, too. That is crazy because recently there was an incident in Texas, and nobody there knew who the bad guy was because everybody there had their gun out! Police didn’t know who was who.
Also, as always, the gun shows are a way to circumvent state laws. That’s one reason why I hope that Daly City would stop having those. They also have gun shows in San Jose, and I know their council person is trying to put legislation forward to stop the gun shows there. Hopefully Daly City will follow suit.
For people who want to take action, what are some things that you suggest people do?
Rev. Brown: Well, show up for the rally on the 24th! Call your senators and legislatures. You may feel that they agree with you already but they still need those numbers to say that “x” number of citizens agree with us on this issue. Even though you think Senator Harris and Senator Feinstein are supportive of gun control reform, please give them a call to let them know that they have your support.
I’m so glad these kids in Florida are taking the issue on because we as adults have failed them. On March 24, we need to support them any way we can because we have not been good role models on this issue.
Educate yourself on gun policy. Look at it from both sides and see what makes sense in your heart as far as the greater good for us as a people, rather than just as an individual. We need to think about what kind of culture and legacy we are creating for the generations to come.
Reverend Angela Brown, JD, is an Associate Pastor at GLIDE, and she invites you to join GLIDE Church on March 24 at the San Francisco March For Our Lives Rally. Prior to 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 to the UMC Judicial Council.