MORE GUN CONTROL IS
ESSENTIAL FOR CREATING PEACEFUL COMMUNITIES
By Sr. Brenda
Walsh, Racine Dominican
Recent stories in the media reveal a great
need for more gun control. The shootings in the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek and
also the shooting in Arizona and other places confirm this need. The Global
Peace Index each year measures peacefulness around the globe and is beginning to
teach legislators that more gun control is needed. Investing in peace will be
much more productive than investing in endless wars. The hope is that we can
start to visualize a world without war, where peace prevails and where people
have sufficient resources to feed their families, educate their children, and
train for and find work that will sustain them.
Conversation is needed at every level
regarding ways to bring about more gun control, to prevent more gun deaths and
tragedies. We realize that gun control will not stop all the violence but it
would be a step in the right direction to create peaceful communities. There
are 270 million privately owned guns in the US. Some call us the most “gun-
saturated country in the world.” Private and public conversations as well as
some plan of action are required to bring about peace in our communities. It
would also be helpful to have planning sessions to come up with some workable
solutions and a budget for peace building and not just for continuing the
multiple wars in which we are involved. Wars never make progress toward peace.
Norman Cousins once said that the minds that invented war can also imagine a
peaceful community or nation.
Some communities currently are sharing their
ideas and efforts toward gun control. For example, the Catholic churches in the
Archdiocese of Detroit started a program called “safety in the city” to remove
some of the guns that are now available. 365 guns have already been collected.
They are working with the area police department and provide some funding to
people who are willing to hand in their guns for the gun buyback in a program
called “Safety in the City.” They destroy the guns that are handed in. They are
also offering employment training for young people, mentoring for young males,
health fairs, literacy programs and youth mentoring and individual counseling.
They are receiving much support from local churches and other groups. (Full
story is in the issue of National Catholic Reporter Sept. 14-27. Parishioners
contributed to the gun buy-back program. People are asked to convene in groups
and discuss this and other ideas to create non-violent communities. How can gun
control programs keep guns out of the hands of youth, mentally ill and others
who lack responsibility for those around them? Children must learn how to relate
in peaceful ways and cooperatively. Young people need help to get out of gangs
and into productive activities. What they are looking for is a sense of
belonging in caring communities and adults to model this for them. Conflict
Resolutions skills are now being taught in many areas and teach alternative
peaceful ways of solving differences. Such endeavors bring hope to families and
communities and can also bring a sense of hope that another world is indeed
possible. It will take the effort of all of us to bring it about.
At present gun control is on the minds of many
people in our nation. This is a good time to discuss the issue and work out
plans to help resolve it. No effort is too small to make a difference. May the
Spirit guide us in our endeavors for peace-making and help us realize God’s plan
for each of us and for our world. Let us rejoice that God’s power working in us
can make it happen.