Dr. Cheryl Kirk-Duggan Attends White House Briefing on Gun Violence
March 28, 2013 - Shaw Professor Dr. Cheryl Kirk-Duggan attended the White House Briefing on Gun Violence in Washington D.C. this semester, for a national convening and briefing on the faith response to gun violence. Organized by the People Organizing to Change Communities (PICO) Lifelines to Healing Campaign Clergy, the gathering included representatives from President Obama and Vice President Biden’s offices and other interfaith, interracial clergy and religious leaders.
Founded in 1972, PICO began as a regional training institute to help support neighborhood organizations in California. The organization uses faith-based community organizing as a process for engaging faith communities to address particular communities’ challenges and concerns, and in turn, to energize and strengthen congregations’ lives.
At the gathering, the group focused on three main areas: 1. Emphasizing the unique role of faith to heal the soul of America from gun violence and committing to an effort to do so collectively and in faith traditions; 2. Training by leading experts in the gun violence prevention field and media messaging training for local, state and national faith responses; and, 3. Meeting with White House and Congressional leaders about the need to address gun violence and being briefed on their proposals to address them.
During the conversation, the PICO Clergy developed the following:
Healing the Soul of America from Gun Violence; Lifeline to Healing Clergy Statement:
“We share in the outrage growing from every corner of our nation that we have abandoned our young people to the clutches of violence fueled by greed, fear and our despair. We bear witness to the deep pain of our nation’s people, whose love ones are dying needlessly in our communities across the land, that our God commands we speak out about the sanctity of all life and affirm that all have the right to live in peace and safety. We further assert that people of faith everywhere are commanded by our God to work tirelessly and in coalition with one another across racial lines, class and place lines, age and gender lines to vigorously confront the proliferation and increasing lethality of guns in our neighborhoods and cities, towns and streets, malls and schools.
We affirm that every life is precious in the eyes of our Creator and our God has no pleasure in the death of anyone. We are committed to uniting around the common pain and loss of who have suffered in Newtown and New Orleans, Chicago and Columbine and Oak Creek and Oakland. We are committed through our work to heal the soul of a nation. We will be vigilant partners in the struggle to transform our communities from the valley of the shadow of death to the land of the living.
To this end, we seek:
- Universal background checks for all gun sales
- Ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines
- Investments in mental health and public health support
- Targeted investments and approaches from federal government in urban cities most impacted by gun violence”