The Presbyterian Church (USA) has called for a Decade to End Gun Violence.
As part of Central’s Equity Through Action: NOW team, Cheryl Fleetwood has been leading our efforts to address the gun violence epidemic. So far, Central has officially joined a coalition of congregations called CO Faith Communities to End Gun Violence and we have become active with the national Guns to Gardens Movement. Many members of our congregation have been involved with and supported these efforts, and we welcome everyone to participate.
We are at a critical juncture with regard to gun violence in our country, and many of us are feeling called to DO something to bring about positive change. Gun violence is the number one cause of death for young people in our country. The majority of gun deaths are suicide. The proliferation of guns in our society is out of control!
Here are some Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) – Opportunities for Action
Through Central’s membership in CO Faith Communities United to End Gun Violence (CFCU) there are three distinct areas for involvement: Advocacy / Education / Public Health.
In each activity, CFCU leaders and Central’s GVP Team will provide the support necessary to ensure you are equipped to engage effectively. Some are opportunities for individual involvement and others would be undertaken as a community.
Gun Violence Prevention: Advocacy
Engage in our democracy through direct, concrete actions to impact state-level public policy. Express your views and share your experiences with state legislators regarding specific GVP-related bills.
During CO General Assembly’s Session – January thru early May
- Email legislators with your views on GVP-related bills
- Attend committee hearings on GVP-related bills to show support/opposition
- Testify during committee hearings
- Participate in CO Ceasefire’s Lobby Day (usually in March)
- Attend GVP rallies and vigils
During the Session Interim – June thru December
- Host workshops to educate members about how the Colorado legislature works
- Build relationships with our state representatives in Colorado House and Senate
- Host panel discussions / GVP events with legislators
Gun Violence Prevention: Education
- Raise awareness and educate our community about suicide prevention, safe storage and Extreme Risk Protection Orders – ERPO (red flag laws).
- Attend/host a QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training to learn how YOU can help prevent suicide.
- Attend/host events focused on learning about CO’s safe storage laws and then commit to share this information with your networks.
- Attend/host events designed to educate community members about how Colorado’s red flag laws are being implemented and the process for requesting an Extreme Risk Protection Order.
Gun Violence Prevention: Public Health
Volunteer with public health-based programs which offer a wide variety of engagement opportunities, enabling you to put your specific skills to work.
- Handgun Intervention Program (HIP) – Denver’s Youth Probation Department offers youth with a first-time gun offense an opportunity to enroll in a 6-week course which includes a Community Accountability Board (CAB) made up of community members. CAB volunteers are assigned to a young person and attend all the classes, in a mentoring capacity. Upon successful completion of the course, the offense is removed from the young person’s record.
- Guns to Gardens (G2G) – Movement of faith communities across the country which provides a service to folks who have UNWANTED guns. G2G hosts “Safe Surrender” events during which gun owners can anonymously surrender their weapons and have them dismantled while they wait. The gun owners receive a “thank you” gift card for donating their gun pieces to be transformed by blacksmiths into gardening tools.
- Gun Safe and Trigger Lock Giveaways – Focused on harm reduction by promoting responsible gun ownership through safe firearm storage, these are events where congregations raise funds to purchase gun safes and trigger locks which are then distributed to gun owners who might not otherwise be able to afford them.
Please contact Cheryl Fleetwood, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’d like to learn more about any of these activities.