WASHINGTON — About 80 clergymen gathered at the United Methodist Building in Washington yesterday to ask lawmakers to end the gun violence in their communities.
Groups of religious leaders plan to meet with Vice President Joe Biden and other national legislators to urge them to enact several gun control and crime prevention policies. They want universal background checks on all gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and investments in mental health programs, according to a letter they plan to give to lawmakers.
Several clergymen who attended shared their own personal experiences with tragedy. Bishop Edgar Vann from Detroit described how an elementary school boy carried a gun to school several times because he believed he needed protection. And Just over a year ago Rabbi Gary Creditor from Richmond, Va., buried a member of his congregation who was shot while visiting the grave of her son. That son had also been shot to death.
“In our urban neighborhoods across the country Newtown is happening everyday,” said Rev. Michael McBride, a pastor from San Francisco. “Tragedy and loss of lives happen every day.”
The event was sponsored by the PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing campaign — a national religious movement to end violence and crime — and the Center for American Progress, an independent advocacy organization. The speakers urged the clergymen in attendance to continue to contact their elected officials about their concerns. They also announced a Sabbath weekend in Washington in early March, to which they plan to invite 1,000 people of faith to rally against gun violence.
“I’ve come to stand with my colleagues my brothers and sisters from other urban areas across America to say that the violence has to stop and we must increase the peace,” Vann said.