The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) is excited to announce our endorsement of the De-Policing the Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) Movement Policy Playbook. The Policy Playbook is the combined effort of several youth-led GVP organizations (Youth Over Guns, March For Our Lives CA, and Team Enough, to name a few) that came together under the leadership of Not My Generation (NMG).
It all began in February of 2020, in a manner not too different from PPF’s deep focus on the call to defund the police, when NMG refocused its energy towards building an understanding of how the GVP movement unintentionally perpetuated harm and violence against the communities it claims to protect. After months of abolitionist trainings and personal reflection, NMG realized the national GVP movement has long left low-income and black and brown communities – the communities most disproportionately impacted by gun violence – out of critical policy decisions.
PPF endorsed the Policy Playbook as the work these young people have done and are doing aligns with the goals of the GVP working group to be more accountable in our work to communities of color. One way we have begun to do this is by spearheading the overture that was submitted to the 224th General Assembly that calls for a reevaluation of the PC(USA) GVP policy, Gun Violence Gospel Values, so that racial, gender and class justice are fully integrated into the policy. Not only does endorsing the De-Policing the GVP Movement Policy Playbook align with PPF’s value of being antiracist, it also aligns with our history of encouraging, supporting, and empowering those most impacted by violence, and this includes the youth of this country.
The Policy Playbook imagines an approach to justice, safety, liberation and gun violence prevention that is built on four pillars: community empowerment, creating counter structures to police and prisons, healing from pain, and social, political and structural accountability. Some of the policies the playbook puts forward are: passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, invest in our public school system’s mental health services and after school programs, create comprehensive threat assessment programs in schools, invest in programs that teach conflict resolution skills, strengthen federal safe storage laws, raise the age to purchase firearms to 21 years old, prohibit all online firearm and ammunition sales or transfers (including gun parts), and invest in state and local level gun buy-back and disposal programs just to name a few.
The Policy Playbook differs from the mainstream GVP movement by acknowledging the unequal balance of power some GVP policies produce for the state as happens with Extreme Risk Protection or “Red Flag” laws which rely on the police to enforce. While the Policy Playbook is committed to increasing the standard for gun ownership through background checks on all gun purchases, the Policy Playbook also acknowledges that black and brown individuals have been disproportionately impacted by the United States criminal justice system and calls for the release of federal prisoners who have committed nonviolent crimes, expunging of their records, and provision of full reparations for their time spent in prison. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 46.3% of federal inmates are charged with a non-violent drug offense, and this alone should not impact their ability to be a responsible gun owner. With an understanding of how Black and low-income communities are both overly policed and disproportionately incarcerated, the Policy Playbook calls on the GVP movement to refocus our efforts on preventative measures which ensure that gun regulations fall on manufacturers and sellers rather than marginalized individuals.
Ever since the Valentine’s Day 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL that killed 17 people, the youth of this country have boldly spoken out and are leading the way to end gun violence. They have bravely denounced the gun industry rhetoric that more guns make us safer. This rhetoric has infected our lawmakers who consistently choose to put gun industry profits before public safety, turning our children into targets.
To learn more about de-policing the GVP movement, visit the website here and hear directly from the youth that are leading the way by watching the launch party for the Policy Playbook.