SOCIAL ACTION COMMISION
AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Chairperson
Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Director/Consultant
Thank you President Obama. As we sit across this nation listening to you, we have never felt closer to the work that you are engaged in, because we are on this journey together. Your commitment to take action to help make our communities safer by stopping gun violence is a welcomed trek and we are ready to go forward with you.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church is no stranger to the impact of gun violence, not the least of which is the most recent massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina where 9 innocent lives were snuffed out and hundreds of thousands of people around the globe still shudder when thinking about that senseless and tragic loss. While we continue to struggle with the open sore of racism, we can surely craft corrective courses and take away some of the tools that have been and are being used to carry out senseless acts of violence.
Keeping guns out the wrong hands thru background checks is one of those steps. If an effective background system had been in place, the Mother Emanuel shooter very likely would not have been issued a gun. As you noted, we are no stranger to check points, so background checks would serve that purpose for those who want to “bear arms”.
As we reflect on the value of screening further, and the accounts of family and friends that statements of racial hatred characterized the Emanuel shooter’s vocabulary, an effective mental health systemwould have provided some preventive care or early intervention. When a person with a troubled mind who believes that (s)he has a mandate to destroy people can easily and legally find guns to destroy that race or gender or group, it seems that, by omission, we are issuing a permit to kill. Early intervention and diagnosis can help break the cycle of killing by gun power.
All of us must become engaged to create and maintain safe communities. Acquiring more guns is not the solution nor should we fuel a destructive economy which creates weapons of human destruction that can be carelessly used to kill innocent people.
Today, you have given new and invigorating definition to statesmanship and selfless leadership. Misguided and selfish persons who benefit from the sale of guns must be brought along on this journey, and the faith community is obligated to play a role in that conversion effort. The AME Church pledges to do what it is called to do – speak truth in far and remote places, carry the good news, and incentivize changing of lives and minds. We will also educate about the “true” intent of the “right to bear arms” which has been twisted by those with a motive of greed.
Recognizing that the journey must also include the elected leadership in the US Senate and US House of Representatives, the AME Church also pledges to speak truth to our elected servants and show boldness at the polls.
Let’s get going. Our moral outrage and action must be palpable, visible, and unstoppable. As Richard Allen said, “The Lord was pleased to strengthen us, and remove all fear from us, and disposed our hearts to be as useful as possible.” With God, and together, we will prevail!