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.
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.