Bishop Marc to the Beloved Community: Protecting the vulnerable from gun violence is our responsibility

 

Dear friends in Christ,

I am writing to voice my objection, from a faith-rooted base, to the President’s proposal to arm teachers in our public schools. The President’s proposal both backs violence in our society and amplifies it. As a Christian, I believe in the power of love and nonviolence. Any move that seeks to end violence by violent means is both a rejection of the power of love and a mistake that will end by undermining the very thing it purports to address. 

The President’s proposal to arm teachers also is asking them to oppose their vocation of nurture and learning. While teachers and students acted with great presence of mind and courage to protect others in the recent mass shooting in Florida, it does not follow that the next step is to arm other teachers to meet attacks in other schools. It is no more the teachers’ responsibility to physically protect the students than it is their responsibility to parent the children in their care – they are educators, and that is more than enough. 

Rather, it is our responsibility to protect the vulnerable in our society. Further, we must do so not by violent means, but means that reveal our own commitment to life. Thus, the first step in protecting our children should be comprehensive gun control. The list of points put forward by the students in Florida and elsewhere is sensible and sufficient for a start: 

• A ban on assault weapons
• Better background checks
• No bump stocks

These recommendations are contained, for instance, in the powerful letter from a 12-year old girl that was passed on to me by a friend of her family. The text of the letter is pasted below. Please read it. 

Faithfully, 
+Marc

 

Time for local action on gun control

Published in the Stow and Bolton Independent (Massachusetts)
February 28, 2018

 

I am writing in support of the students of Parkland High School. When it comes to the victims of shootings, the time for thoughts and prayers is up. It is time for action. While students are taking action, only lawmakers can take the necessary steps to reduce these tragedies.
 
We are not asking for a ban on all guns. We are asking for sensible gun control: 1) a ban on assault weapons; 2) better background checks; 3) and no bump stocks. Ninety-seven percent of the American public is in favor of these measures.
 
Whether or not you have been personally touched by these tragedies, do not fool yourself into thinking it is not a local issue. Some of my friends (seventh graders) have been asking to be home-schooled out of their fear of a school shooting in Bolton. This should not be a reality that children my age, or any age for that matter, carry into their classrooms.
 
I urge you to participate in efforts to reduce these school shootings however you can — march in Boston on March 24, and/or vote for people who will enforce stronger gun control. Doing nothing, at this rate, will result in over one hundred school shootings by year’s end.
 
Sincerely, 
Aurora Becker
Parker School, Grade 7