This can be no more!” sang a quartet to open chapel Friday morning. Curti Book and Fred Kauffman of Mennonite Central Committee East Coast (MCC) visited campus to lead discussion in chapel on how gun violence affects communities in chapel and a open mic in Common Grounds last Monday.
Fred Kauffman gave the chapel audience some astounding statistics. For example, there were 9,146 gun related murders in America in 2009. This is the “law of sin and death,” he proclaimed. 31,593 people died from gun violence in America in 2008, and over half of those deaths were from suicide (probably from legal guns).
Illegal guns are used in violence more than legal guns are for obvious reasons. In Philadelphia, alone in 2011, 316 illegal guns were involved in deaths.
Kauffman went on to explain the concept of straw purchasers. These people buy guns and sell them to traffickers who cannot legally buy guns (as they have a history of mental illness or a criminal record), to sell them to others who cannot legally purchase guns.
Gun shops are “rarely” held accountable. There has been talk of a “lost or stolen reporting law,” which requires that if the owner of a gun discovers that his or her gun is missing or stolen, he or she must report it to the authorities within three days. If this does not occur and the stolen/missing gun is used in a crime, the gun owner could be held responsible for that crime as well as the criminal.
89 percent of Americans supported this law, but 67 percent of legislators voted against it. Even 74 percent of National Rifle Association (NRA) members support background checks for gun sales, but 40 percent of sales happen without background checks.
As a call to action against gun violence, chapel audience members could fill out mail-in forms asking Congress to “reauthorize the ban on assault weapons and the ban on high-capacity ammunition” and “begin discussion of reforms to stop straw purchases.”
Monday night at 8 p.m. a group of about thirty people were closely seated around the stage at Common Grounds, waiting to hear or tell personal stories of gun violence and its effect on them. It was moderated by a Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) graduate student, Sigal Shoham. MCC’s Frank Kauffman reviewed the purpose of the tour before the open mic session began.
Jean Claude Nkundwa, a CJP graduate student, who shared. He grew up in Burundi, Africa, and remembered “crisis” and war breaking out in the early 1990’s. Before the war broke out, Nkundwa stated that it was unheard of for civilians to carry guns, but soon the violence reached such a high level that seventh graders took exams with guns under their desks. Nkundwa’s friend, who had a disease, shot himself. A rebel group with guns attacked Nkundwa himself. There is still currently a power struggle in Burundi, and he said he does not want this to happen in the United States.
Tyler Yoder, a Junior, shared a personal story about a bipolar friend of his in highschool. One of the days he did not take his medication was also when his relationship with his girlfriend ended. The interactions between his medication and the emotional state he was in caused him to commit suicide.
Curtis from MCC wrapped up the night by stating that MCC has some good information on preventing gun violence as well as good gun use (their website on the subject is www.mcc.org/fearnot).
Monica Root, Staff Writer