The Christian Recorder News Break
African Methodist Episcopal Church Statement
on Shooting in Orlando, Florida
Monday, June 13, 2016
The African Methodist Episcopal Church condemns the mass shooting that occurred in Orlando, Florida on Sunday morning, June 12. It was the deadliest mass shooting in United States history that caused 50 deaths and 53 injuries. We commend law enforcement because their intervention likely prevented more deaths and casualties.
A year ago this Friday, the African Methodist Episcopal Church experienced the brutal and tragic death of nine of our congregants at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina and we feel the loss, hurt and sorrow of those whose loved ones have been injured and killed in Orlando, Florida. We extend our sympathy and our prayers and ask God to comfort them in their sorrow, fill the void in their lives, and give them the peace of God. We also lift our prayers for those who have been injured, believing that God will heal and restore them, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
This mass shooting, which has been labeled as domestic terrorism, again reminds us of the critical times in which we live. We live every day with the threat of attacks from international or domestic terrorists. No longer is the United States protected by the waters which separate us from those who are our enemies. As we saw in Orlando yesterday, some of our enemies come from within our borders; homegrown terrorist, whose determined goal is to kill, injure and bring fear to Americans.
Yesterday’s mass shooting is also a reminder that racism and hate are still a part of American life. The gunman in yesterday’s shooting, Omar Mateen, in conversations with family, former employees and others, expressed his racist feelings and hatred toward blacks and those who were gay.
We, as a nation, once again have been confronted with the significant loss of lives and violence caused by guns; in one day, in one place, 53 people killed and 50 persons wounded by a gun.
What will it take for the United States to act on these very important issues? In some ways we invite the tragedies which have become so commonplace among us. Many of our political leaders are making it easier for terrorists to recruit and incite Americans to commit terrorist acts. Calls to ban all Muslims from entering the United States and the profiling of Muslims because of their religion are invitations to trouble. It is no coincidence that the increase in domestic terrorism parallels the increased rhetoric against Muslims.
The nation’s denial about the reality of racism and how pervasive it is has caused polarization and anger. The mindset of denial, fanned by our political leadership, does not speak well for the United States. What will it take for the nation’s political leadership in both political parties to reform of our gun laws? The gun lobby in this country is clearly the strongest lobby in this country. Most things are just common sense, unless it applies to guns.
The gunman in yesterday’s shooting had an assault style rifle. Six months ago in San Bernardino the gunman had an assault style rifle. In 2012 at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado and at a school in Newtown, Connecticut the gunmen had assault style rifles. In the past 10 years, assault style weapons have been used in 14 mass shootings, with half of them since last June. These type weapons were banned in 1994, but the ban expired in 2004 and Congress because of the fear of the gun lobby has not acted to renew it. Another mass shooting has taken place, the largest in American history; and again, Congress will not act.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church will continue its efforts on the issue of gun control. We will continue to speak out against racism and seek to get the nation to act on gun reform laws.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath and Ms. Jacqueline DuPont Walker will join with the National Council of Churches to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week in Washington to discuss gun reform legislation and a call for the immediate reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church joins with the nation in praying for the families of those who lost loved ones and healing for those who are injured; but we also commit ourselves to continue to advocate and seek to abate and nullify the circumstances that create the environment for tragedies like this to happen.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Chairman
Mrs. Jackie DuPont Walker, Consultant
Social Action Commission
African Methodist Episcopal Church