Church of the Brethren written testimony to the Senate Subcommittee hearing on 'Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence'




Written testimony in letter form, submitted to a hearing on "Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence" held by the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. This letter was submitted by the Peace Witness Ministry on behalf of the Church of the Brethren denomination:


February 11, 2013

The Honorable Richard Durbin, Chairman
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Al Franken
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Christopher Coons
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Richard Blumenthal
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Mazie Hirono
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Ted Cruz, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable John Cornyn
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Lindsey Graham
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

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Dear Senators,

The Church of the Brethren has a long history of peacemaking and advocating for non-violent solutions to the problems that plague our world. We have consistently encouraged our congregations, communities, and neighbors to find ways to non-violently address their conflicts and be a powerful witness against the use of violence to settle disputes. As a denomination, we have always lamented the violence that soaks our culture, and today we write to you to express our support for your efforts to reduce gun violence in our country.

We support many of the initiatives that are being considered in the subcommittee, such as the institution of a universal background check, limits on ammunition magazine capacity and assault-style weapons, and stricter gun trafficking laws. As a denomination, we have historically called for laws such as these and believe that they will go a long way to helping curb the gun violence epidemic that has affected this country for decades.

These types of laws, however, will not magically solve our epidemic of violence. They will certainly help limit which types of deadly weapons are legally available for purchase, but if we are to take our culture of violence seriously, we must take a much broader approach. How can we honestly say that we are making dramatic efforts to reduce violence in our communities when our media is still saturated with violent images and messages, and our government is still constantly relying on violence to solve its own problems? We may wish to separate the violence at home from violence in the media and violence perpetrated overseas, but they are all connected. We must have a consistent ethic regarding the destructive effects of violence in communities abroad and our communities right here at home.

Additionally, it is imperative that we support efforts to remove the stigma from mental illness and create a society where mental health care is readily available for anybody who needs it.  We cannot continue to mourn these victims of violence and regret what could have been done to prevent perpetrators from committing such atrocities. We must be proactive and implement comprehensive prevention methods that address all of the underlying causes of violence.

We recommend that the subcommittee seriously consider measures that address not only the loopholes and abuses in the current system, but also measures that lessen the need for such a system altogether. We support the implementation of a universal background check, federally criminalizing gun trafficking, limiting access to assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, but we also support increasing funding and access to mental health services, and emphasizing non-violent conflict resolution, both at home and abroad. We cannot continue to patch up the symptoms of violence without beginning to talk about and address the root causes.
 
Sincerely,

Peace Witness Ministries,
Church of the Brethren
110 Maryland Ave. Suite 108
Washington, DC 20002

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