An interfaith group of about 110 people concerned about gun violence and looking for ways to curb it gathered with Bishop Alan M. Gates at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston in late January to learn more about the Do Not Stand Idly By gun safety campaign. The gathering brought parish representatives and participants of the diocese's B-PEACE antiviolence campaign together with organizers and other members of groups affiliated with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO).
Do Not Stand Idly By is a national campaign of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (of which GBIO is an affiliate). It aims to leverage public-sector gun purchasing power to encourage gun manufacturers to insist on responsible sales practices and to invest in potentially safer "smart gun" technology.
Parishes in Boston and beyond were represented at the January orientation, including St. Mary's Church, Dorchester; Church of St. Augustine and St. Martin, Roxbury; Emmanuel Church, St. Stephen's Church and Trinity Church in Boston; St. John's Church, Beverly Farms; All Saints Parish and St. Paul's Church in Brookline; St. James's Church, Cambridge; St. Luke's Church, Hudson; St. Stephen's Church, Lynn; St. Paul's Church, Newburyport; St. Elizabeth's Church, Sudbury; and the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.
A smaller group of those ready to work together on next steps regathered on March 13 to get practical training and make commitments for meetings with public officials, according to the Rev. Liz Steinhauser, the lead organizer for B-PEACE. "One goal is to increase the number of signatories to the campaign, meaning local mayors and police chiefs," Steinhauser said. Since January, she said, Boston's police commissioner, Bill Evans, has signed on to the Do Not Stand Idly By request for information from gun manufacturers.
Part of the ongoing conversation, she said, is about finding ways to increase the campaign's reach. She noted the participation of bishops from both Massachusetts dioceses in the national Bishops Against Gun Violence organization. "I would ask that we continue to keep all of these efforts in our prayers as we work to make gun safety advocacy a truly statewide effort," Steinhauser said.
Anyone interested in learning more about the campaign is invited to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
--Tracy J. Sukraw