Two weeks ago I flew to Florida for a national gathering of state ecumenical leaders and a few days later I flew home. In between my landing and leaving, in a different Florida airport (into which I have also flown many times), a passenger retrieved his baggage, assembled and loaded the gun he had brought along on the trip, and shot other people waiting to retrieve their bags. Five died, six were wounded, and thirty-six more caught up in the panic were also injured. He then lay down on the floor and surrendered to authorities. The reality that this particular shooting “hit close to home” for me is beside the point, though it did. Truth is, it could have been any airport, any school, any theater, any nightclub, any city street. All of them are tragic; all of them hit close to home; none of them do much to change the tenor of the conversation in our country about guns.
Who should have guns?
When should they have guns?
What kind of guns should they have?
These are reasonable questions that help us move beyond the headline grabbing news of mass shootings into the even more recurring and dangerous reality of “everyday” shootings: accidental, self inflected, and intentional. By now, most know of the statistics collected by the Brady Campaign: 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room; 55 people kill themselves with a firearm every day and 46 people are shot or killed in an accident with a gun.
Perhaps what we don’t know is there are ways to move the needle in a positive direction. There are steps we can take as citizens to secure our guns and protect our rights. The NC Council of Churches and our partners believe this is an important conversation and invite you to join us the weekend of January 27-29 as we start to move the needle.
Over the course of three days, we will look at ways to move Beyond Gun Violence. A partial schedule for the weekend includes:
Friday at 7 p.m. at St. Paul AME Church, 101 North Merritt Mill Road, Chapel Hill
The Rev. James Atwood, speaker, “America’s Fascination with Violence”
Atwood is a theologian and author
Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at United Church of Chapel Hill, 1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Workshops and speakers including a keynote address by the Rev. Matthew Crebbin, Senior Minister of the Newtown Congregational Church (UCC)
Please register in advance. Lunch cannot be guaranteed after Tuesday, January 24.
Sunday at 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m., United Church of Chapel Hill
Crebbin will preach and will speak at the 10 a.m. adult forum
Sunday, University Presbyterian Church, 209 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill
Atwood will speak
A full schedule of events for the weekend is available here.
Sponsors along with the Council are: St. Paul’s AME Church, University Presbyterian Church, United Church of Chapel Hill, North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, the NC Justice Center, NC MomsRising, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America NC, League of Women Voters Orange/Durham/Chatham Counties, Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence, and the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham.