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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Arming Yourself with Guns or with the "Armor of Light"?

On June 24, 2015, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley urged his colleagues on the floor to break the silence, stop the violence, and start the conversation about the gun violence epidemic in America.

Citing horrific tragedies at Charleston, South Carolina; at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard; at Sandy Hook Elementary School; at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; at a supermarket parking lot in Tucson, Arizona; at Fort Hood in Texas; at Virginia Tech; and at other places, Quigley asked, "When will enough be enough?"

Quigley continued ...

"When will we stand up and say: we may not be able to stop every crime, but we can stop some of them and at least minimize the damage of others?

"When will we realize and acknowledge that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries?

"When will we finally be able to have a national discussion about gun violence?"

(Mike Quigley. "Starting a Conversation on Gun Violence."
Speech U.S. House of Representatives. June 24, 2015.)

Like Quigley, I acknowledge no single law or set of laws can prevent every act of gun violence. It is impossible to stop every shooting. America needs much more -- a change in culture to influence criminal actions and violent behavior. Yet, oftentimes changing our culture begins with changing our laws. By enacting reasonable, middle-ground reforms, we can make a difference.

The congressman believes we must consider these actions that will reduce the frequency and deadliness of gun violence:

* We can make it more difficult for would-be assassins to access guns.

* We can ensure every gun in America is purchased after a background check, rather than only 60 percent of guns as is currently the case.

* We can crack down on the flow of illegal guns onto our streets by improving gun trafficking data.

* And, we can reduce the fatality rate by banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines that are designed exclusively for killing dozens of people at once.

Nothing can happen without a meaningful, purposeful conversation. Right wing, left wing -- conservative, liberal -- gun advocates, anti-gun advocates: our government must bring all of these groups together to find new, feasible actions that lead us once more to a kinder, gentler United States.

Put On the Armor of Light

"The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light."

(Romans 13:12)

The Armor of Light is Abigail Disney’s directorial debut. The film is set for release October 30, 2015. It follows the journey of an Evangelical minister trying to find the courage to preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America. 

The film tracks Reverend Rob Schenck, anti-abortion activist and fixture on the political far right, who breaks with orthodoxy by questioning whether being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life.  Reverend Schenck is shocked and perplexed by the reactions of his long-time friends and colleagues who warn him away from this complex, politically explosive issue.

Along the way, Rev. Schenck meets Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager who was murdered in Florida and whose story has cast a spotlight on “Stand Your Ground” laws. McBath, also a Christian, decides to work with Schenck even though she is pro-choice. Lucy is on a difficult journey of her own, trying to make sense of her devastating loss while using her grief to effect some kind of viable and effective political action—where so many before her have failed.

Armor follows these unlikely allies through their trials of conscience, heartbreak and rejection, as they bravely attempt to make others consider America’s gun culture through a moral lens. The film is also a courageous look at our fractured political culture, and an assertion that it is, indeed, possible for people to come together across deep party lines to find common ground.

Watch the trailer for the film by clicking here:

2015 honors include -- Tribeca Film Festival, Montclair Film Festival, Traverse City Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, AFI Docs Official Selection.

A Place To Start the Dialogue

As complicated as the matter of gun violence really is, people still seek short, direct answers. Jonathan Stray -- freelance journalist, former editor for the Associated Press, and instructor of computational journalism at Columbia University -- offers this article in the Atlantic Monthly for a short summary. Perhaps, it is a starting point for readers interested in stopping gun violence.

Stray's article is titled "Gun Violence in America: The 13 Key Questions (With 13 Concise Answers)" and it was printed February 4, 2013.

Click here to read the full Atlantic article:
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