Once again, a community in the United States is terrorized by a white man with a semi-automatic assault style rifle. This time it is in Maine.
According to Gun Violence Archives, including last night’s shooting in Lewiston where at least 18 were killed and over a dozen more injured, there have been 565 American mass shootings (defined as four or more people shot) in 43 different states (and Washington D.C.) in the 299 days of 2023.
That’s about two mass shootings every day. Only seven states are without a mass shooting this year. We are in a crisis that would make Jesus weep.
While mass shootings capture our attention, the daily toll gun violence takes on communities is tragic and avoidable. Communities of color are disproportionately affected and only certain mass shootings make the news. So far in 2023, the US has had over 35,000 gun deaths and over 30,000 gun injuries. An average of 2.7 children under the age of 12 are shot every day. We have become desensitized to the magnitude of the loss to these violent weapons, and we must take action.
We weep with and pray for all who are victims and survivors of gun violence in the United States and across the world, including the people of Gaza who are daily facing ongoing violence and genocide.
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has worship and vigil resources in our Emergency Response Kit for Gun Violence Events to use to support your community lament the grief, fear, and trauma that accompany these horrific events.
The time to act to prevent more gun deaths is now.
Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws, otherwise known as Red Flag laws, allow for the removal of firearms from people in crisis. While the facts are still emerging, we know the shooter in Maine had a documented history of disturbing thoughts of violence and mental illness, and an ERPO may have prevented this shooting. Contact your elected state representatives now to ask them to support the adoption of an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law if your state does not have one. Here is where you can find out if your state has an ERPO law.
Tell the ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – the government agency in charge of regulating guns in the US) you support the proposed rule to close the online and gun show loophole that allows gun buyers to avoid a background check on the sale and transfer of guns. Our background check system was created to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who are not allowed to purchase or possess them in the first place. But loopholes in the system—like the ones that allow unlicensed gun sellers to sell guns online and at gun shows without running background checks on their buyers—undermine it.
Sign up for PPF’s next Action Circles (starts January 11, 2024) to join congregations across the country that are ridding their communities of unwanted guns by using their parking lots to hold Guns to Gardens events. Read more about the congregations that participated in the June 2022, December 2022 and June 2023 National Guns to Gardens Days events and find upcoming events on our website.