Wilmington Yearly Meeting is grieving all types of gun violence. Mass shootings, individual murders, and deaths by suicide have become all too prevalent in the United States. As Quakers, we abhor the use of violence in any manner. We are a Christian denomination that believes there is a divine light in every person and that love overpowers evil. We are striving, with God’s help, to make this imperfect world better — to uproot social injustice, to erase racial prejudice, to prevent violent deaths.
We are pleased that new legislation has been enacted at the national level, seeing it as one step toward the goal of reducing gun violence. The bill was crafted by U.S. senators of both parties.
The measure, for one thing, makes the local juvenile records of people aged 18 to 20 available during required federal background checks when they attempt to buy guns. Those examinations, previously limited to three days, will last up to a maximum of 10 days to give federal and local officials time to search records.
Conversely, we are disappointed with signed state legislation which now allows certain qualifying adults in Ohio and in Tennessee to carry a concealed handgun without the need for a concealed handgun license.
We are asking Ohio and Tennessee legislators to lay aside our political differences and work together to pass laws that increase age requirements and background checks for people buying guns.
According to a Quinnipiac University national poll released in early June, roughly three-quarters of Americans support raising the minimum legal age to buy any gun to 21.
The amount of gun violence and the number of gun deaths in the United States are, as the Friends Committee for National Legislation (FCNL) puts it, “a troubling reflection on our country’s spiritual state.” Nevertheless, in addition to the spiritual side of the problem, we think that carefully thought-out changes to the law of the land can help reduce gun violence. For example, in the words again of FCNL, we could “limit access to equipment that makes mass shootings deadlier.”
A noted peace activist, Shane Claiborne said, “When the Second Amendment was written, guns fired 1 round a minute. Now they can fire over 100. Guns have evolved over the years. So should our gun laws.”
Clerk of Wilmington Yearly Meeting (a group of Quaker Meetings in southwest Ohio and east Tennessee)
Mary Ann Raizk
Clerk of WYM Board of Christian Concerns for Peace and Society