Reducing Gun Violence



Resolved, That the 167th Convention of the Diocese of California urges the people of the diocese to vote for the California Ballot Initiative Safety For All (Proposition 63) on November 8, 2016;

Resolved, That the Convention urges the people of the diocese to ask their federal representatives to enact similar measures to those contained in the California Ballot Initiative Safety For All (Proposition 63); and

Resolved, That the Convention requests that the Secretary of the Convention communicate the contents of this resolution to all federal and state legislators who represent the diocese. 

Explanation: The gun violence that takes the lives of over 30,000 Americans each year and wounds more than 70,000 others (see demands a response from the Church. In response, this diocese has in the past enacted resolutions to reduce gun violence. The 161st Convention resolution stated that guns should not be brought into churches and schools, and urged the repeal of California’s open carry law. (161st Convention, Resolution 2 (2010)). The 164th Convention resolution stated that guns in the home should be safely stored and that members of the diocese were urged to study the causes of gun violence. (164th Convention, Resolution 5 (2013)).

This year, the state of California is leading the nation with the Safety for All proposition. This proposition would require background checks for ammunition purchases, outlaw large-capacity magazines, and require the reporting of lost and stolen firearms. ( This is ground-breaking legislation that will effectively reduce gun violence. Given the large number of guns already in people’s hands, background checks for ammunition sales is the best way to make sure that guns that people illegally own cannot be used. The events in Charleston, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Orlando and Dallas highlight the need for outlawing large-capacity magazines. Requiring the reporting of lost and stolen firearms is necessary to stop gun trafficking. California will be leading the way with this legislation. With the passage of Proposition 63, the Safety For All initiative, on Nov. 8, 2016, the rest of the country will have a model for what can be done to lessen the hold of the gun culture on this country, and thus enable the saving of the lives of many people.

Submitted by: Diocesan Peace, Justice, and Hunger Commission, Sheila Sims, St. Paul’s, Oakland, chair, Contact: Paula Hawthorn, St. Paul’s, Oakland (

Endorsed by: the Rev. Vicki Gray, Deacon, Christ the Lord, Pinole; the Rev. Susan Champion, rector, Christ the Lord, Pinole; Janet Chisholm, delegate, All Souls, Berkeley; Sister Pamela Clare, CSF; the Ven. Dorothy Jones, archdeacon emeritus; the Rev. Kate Salinaro, deacon, Christ the Lord, Pinole; Este Cantor, rector, Good Shepherd, Berkeley; Scott Buckingham, delegate, St. Paul’s, Oakland.


I find the last resolved clause to be a useless exercise in wheel-spinning. Since the matter has moved to the ballot, it has been taken out of the hands of the state legislators. If it passes, they will have nothing to do. If it does not, they are likely to pay more attention to the vote of the whole state than to the opinion of a relatively small part of the losing side. Similarly, congress will pay more attention to the results at the polls. The final resolved clause should be deleted.

Since this subject is now on the ballot, it is out of the hands of the legislature and in hands of the voters. There is no point in sending this resolution to state legislators because there is nothing left for them to do. As for Congress, we can assume they will be much more interested in the vote of the whole state than in the views of some Episcopalians in the Bay Area. The third resolved clause is unnecessary and useless and should be deleted.

Our support for passage of Prop 63 will encourage other dioceses to support similar measures to address gun violence on a state-by-state basis, thus doing what a do-nothing Congress in thrall to the NRA is incapable of doing.

Reducing gun violence has long been a priority of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. Interested in taking part in its efforts in this regard and on other peace and justice and war and peace issues? Consider joining the EPF chapter forming in the East Bay and, if there is enough interest, diocese-wide. You can contact me at

This subject is indeed on the ballot, but if it does not pass then the work is back in the hands of the state legislators, and so we need to let them know of our support for these sensible regulations. When we speak of the Congress, that sounds huge and almost unapproachable, but the resolution calls for informing our representatives, who in fact have an interest in what we think.

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