Fear not: Gun violence and domestic violence

By Jesse Epp-Fransen

Through a three-year campaign, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. invites people to Fear Not: Seek peace in our homes, communities and world.

Through the campaign MCC U.S. has worked to bring attention to the epidemic of gun violence in our communities. Download or request a copy of our “Preventing Gun Violence” guide, which provides theological reflection, legislative background, and potential reforms to gun laws.

Credit: Jesse Epp-Fransen/MCC
Credit: Jesse Epp-Fransen/MCC

In the fall MCC East Coast sponsored a Gun Violence Prevention Storytelling Tour in Pennsylvania and Virginia that shared stories of communities affected by gun violence and created a space for dialogue about an issue that can often be divisive. Participants in the tour had the opportunity to sign postcards to elected officials calling on them to take steps to reduce the availability of illegal guns and to restrict assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. Postcards are available for free from the MCC Washington Office.

At the end of 2012 national attention was given to the topic by the tragedy of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. MCC U.S. Program Director Ruth Keidel Clemens participated in an interfaith news conference on the one-week anniversary of the shooting to call attention to the need for a faith-based response to gun violence.

In light of the shooting there is increased attention being given in Congress to the possibility of reauthorizing the expired ban on assault weapons. The MCC Washington Office will call on legislators this year to pass common sense legislation that will address background checks, gun trafficking, and high-capacity magazines.

The MCC U.S. Fear Not campaign has also produced resources on domestic violence, as part of the focus on working for peace in our homes. The Violence Against Women Act, which funds many programs that address domestic abuse and has received bipartisan support in the past, expired on January 1, 2013. The Senate version of the bill included stronger protections for Native American victims of crime, who have often been victimized by those not living in Indian Country. It is our hope that this improvement will be included in any version passed in 2013.

1 Comment

  1. jammer20p

    Jesse Epp-Fransen calls it a “faith-based response” because it’s certainly not based on facts.
    First, let’s look at the her Gun Violence Epidemic:
    America’s gun violence rate continues to hover at record lows after a 20-year decline. Some national statistics are reaching the lowest level since 1963.
    DOJ: Firearm homicide rate has dropped from 7.0/100,000 (18,253 victims) in 1993 to 3.6/100,000 (11,101 victims) in 2011. This is a 49% reduction in firearm homicide. Special Report Firearm Violence, 1993-2011.
    DOJ: Nonfatal firearm victimization rate has dropped from 7.3/100,000 (1,529,742 victims) in 1993 to 1.8/100,000 (467,321 victims) in 2011. This is a 75% reduction in the nonfatal firearm victimization rate. Special Report Firearm Violence, 1993-2011.
    FBI: Firearm homicide rate has dropped from 6.6/100,000 in 1993 to 2.7/100,000 in 2011, a 58% reduction. FBI Uniform Crime Reports Tables 19, 20, 21.
    Let’s look at Virginia, a state with thousands of MCC supporters, and home to the annual Mennonite Relief Sale.
    “The number of homicides in Virginia has decreased 11.8% from 2010 levels. For the second year in a row there was a decrease in child homicide deaths to the lowest number in 13 years.” Virginia Department of Health, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s Annual Report, 2011 referring to all homicides including those committed by armed criminals.
    “Reported crimes committed with all types of firearms in Virginia dropped 5% comparing 2012 to 2011. This was the fourth consecutive annual decrease, contributing to a 28% decrease over the past 7 years.” Thomas R Baker, Virginia Commonwealth University.
    What about Pennsylvania, home to some of MCC’s most strident purveyors of fear?
    “The state has seen a decrease in total gun violence offenses for the fourth consecutive year. The number of gun violence offences reported in 2010 decreased 5.5% from 2009, 11.4% from 2008, and 14.1% from 2007.” Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, 2010 Trends.
    Violent crimes committed involving the use of a firearm: 2008 – 13,814 2012 – 12,180 This is a 12% decrease over 5 years. Pennsylvania State Police Firearms Annual Report
    Our last example, New York City’s Comstat records (for all crimes, ratio of crimes involving guns is very consistent across decades). 1990 – 718,453 index crimes; 2011 – 191,666 for a decrease of 73%. 1990 – 2,245 murders; 2012 – 418 for a decrease of 81%. This was the lowest number of murders since before 1963.

    How can a ministry with decades of history in international relief efforts call this an ‘epidemic’? This is what happens when a good ministry gets polluted by politics.

    Jesse Epp-Fransen, I challenge you to tell the truth.

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