Heeding God’s Call to End Violence

There will be a prayer service to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre. The service will take place at a dramatic installation of 26 t-shirts on frames, representing the elementary school students and adults gunned down during that tragedy. All are welcome to this memorial service.

People of faith need to remember and honor those lost at Sandy Hook and those lost each day in Philadelphia and elsewhere to the American scourge of gun violence. And, the American faith community must take the lead in heeding God’s call to save His children from gun violence.

Remembering the 26 Murdered at Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook Memorial Bicyclists

Bicycling in Memory of 26 Sandy Hook Victims.

On Sunday, April 10, 26 cyclists will ride through Philadelphia on their way to Washington, D.C. Their ride is in memory of the 26 students and educators who were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and in support of common sense gun legislation to reduce gun violence.

Common sense gun legislation allows most people to continue to purchase guns, but:

  • restricts assault weapons and large-capacity bullet clips;
  • imposes background checks where they are absent today (mainly at gun shows);
  • requires owners to report lost or stolen weapons;
  • requires people to be properly trained and licensed before they can buy a new weapon;
  • forbids people on the “no-fly list” from buying a gun; and
  • limits most people to purchasing at most one gun per month.

It would not include stronger provisions that would infringe on people’s rights to self-defense or hunting/recreation.
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Sandy Hook Victim’s Mother: “Now is the Time to Act”

This week’s White House address was delivered by Francine Wheeler, whose six year old son, Ben, was murdered alongside nineteen other children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, four months ago. Now, Francine — joined by her husband David — is asking the American people to help prevent this type of tragedy from happening to more families like hers. Since that terrible day in December, thousands more Americans have died, and thousands more families have suffered the pain of losing a loved one to violence. Now that the Senate has agreed that commonsense gun safety reforms deserve a vote, they must finish the job and pass those reforms to protect our children and our communities. Now is the time for all Americans to help make this a moment of real change.

— Francine Wheeler

Hi. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not the President. I’m just a citizen. And as a citizen, I’m here at the White House today because I want to make a difference and I hope you will join me.

My name is Francine Wheeler. My husband David is with me. We live in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
David and I have two sons. Our older son Nate, soon to be 10 years old, is a fourth grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our younger son, Ben, age six, was murdered in his first-grade classroom on December 14th, exactly 4 months ago this weekend.

Remarks continue after the jump.
David and I lost our beloved son, but Nate lost his best friend. On what turned out to be the last morning of his life, Ben told me, quite out of the blue, “I still want to be an architect, Mama, but I also want to be a paleontologist, because that’s what Nate is going to be and I want to do everything Nate does.”

Ben’s love of fun and his excitement at the wonders of life were unmatched. His boundless energy kept him running across the soccer field long after the game was over. He couldn’t wait to get to school every morning. He sang with perfect pitch and had just played at his third piano recital. Irrepressibly bright and spirited, Ben experienced life at full tilt.

Until that morning. 20 of our children, and 6 of our educators — gone. Out of the blue.

I’ve heard people say that the tidal wave of anguish our country felt on 12/14 has receded. But not for us. To us, it feels as if it happened just yesterday. And in the four months since we lost our loved ones, thousands of other Americans have died at the end of a gun. Thousands of other families across the United States are also drowning in our grief.

Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.

Sometimes, I close my eyes and all I can remember is that awful day waiting at the Sandy Hook Volunteer Firehouse for the boy who would never come home — the same firehouse that was home to Ben’s Tiger Scout Den 6. But other times, I feel Ben’s presence filling me with courage for what I have to do — for him and all the others taken from us so violently and too soon.

We have to convince the Senate to come together and pass common sense gun responsibility reforms that will make our communities safer and prevent more tragedies like the one we never thought would happen to us.

When I packed for Washington on Monday, it looked like the Senate might not act at all. Then, after the President spoke in Hartford, and a dozen of us met with Senators to share our stories, more than two-thirds of the Senate voted to move forward.

But that’s only the start. They haven’t yet passed any bills that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And a lot of people are fighting to make sure they never do.

Now is the time to act. Please join us. You can talk to your Senator, too. Or visit WhiteHouse.gov to find out how you can join the President and get involved.

Help this be the moment when real change begins. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

CeaseFirePA To Hold Day Of Action Against Gun Violence

— by Rabbi David Straus and Adam Kessler

The horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was a tragedy that has been a jarring reminder of the disturbing prevalence of gun violence in our country and culture. Our outrage has stirred us from our complacency and we will not wait for the next atrocity to finally act.

As the nation mourns, we must also look forward and dedicate ourselves to preventing a future massacre. Yet, despite the media attention given to such mass shootings, we must remember that nearly 1200 Pennsylvanians lose their lives, and thousands are injured due to gun violence every year. Nationally, over 31,000 people die from gun violence each year. If the civil rights movement was the moral issue of the ’60s for our community, eradication of gun violence in our society ought to be the moral issue of our time.

More details after the jump.
We ask that you join us and CeaseFirePA at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg on Wednesday, January 23, 12:00 PM for a Day of Action as we take a stand against gun violence. This is the first joint session in Harrisburg since the shooting in Connecticut.

There will be a noon rally and press conference in the East Wing of the Capitol. After the rally and press conference we will visit the offices of our State Representatives and Senators to make our presence felt and our opinions heard.

If you have special ties with either your State Senator or Representative, please contact Robin Schatz, our Director of Government Relations, so that we can let them know that you will be coming by their office on Wednesday afternoon.

CeaseFirePA advocates for sensible laws like more effective background checks for those legally purchasing guns, mandatory reports of lost or stolen legal firearms, national sharing of relevant data, closing loopholes that enable evasion of our laws, and working to remove assault weapons from being sold in Pennsylvania.

Please RSVP to Salena Camara by Wednesday, January 16 with your name, address and phone number, and please indicate if you would like to travel by bus or would prefer to go on your own. Based upon your response we would like to order a bus and travel together for a very minimal fee.  

Even Hardcore NRA Supporters Begin To Have Regrets


The Pozner family sits shiva as their son Noah, the youngest victim at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was laid to rest on Monday.

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Conservative pundit Joe Scarborough received the NRA’s highest ratings during his four terms in Congress, but now he has changed his mind on gun violence prevention.

It’s time for Washington to stop trying to win endless wars overseas while we’re losing the war at home… We must give no more ground… I choose life, and I choose change. And for the sake of our children, we must do what’s right. And for the sake of this great nation that we love, let’s pray to God that we do.

Similarly, Senator Mike Warner says:

I’ve been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. I’ve got an A rating from the NRA. But the status quo isn’t acceptable. I’ve got three daughters. They asked me on Friday evening, ‘Dad, what are you gonna do about this?’ There’s got to be a way to put reasonable restrictions, particularly as we look at assault weapons, as we look at these fast clips of ammunition.

Meanwhile, Senator Joe Machin (D-WV), who famously ran a campaign advertisement where he brandishes a rifle and “takes out” anti-gun legislation, has now moderated his views:

I dont know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle. I don’t know anyone that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting. I mean, these are things that need to be talked about.

According to CNN:

There are an estimated 270 million guns in the hands of civilians in the United States, making Americans the most heavily armed people in the world per capita. Yemen, a tribal nation with no history of strong central government or the rule of law, comes in a distant second.