One thing that is very important to me is being an active participant in my community. Another thing that is important to me is setting an example of social justice involvement for my son. One last thing that is essential to me as a person is working to end gun violence in our society. So when I moved to Philadelphia, a city with a large gun violence problem, getting involved with the issue was a natural fit for me. I am on the board of a group called Neighborhood Partners to End Gun Violence, a local affiliate of Heeding God’s Call. “Neighborhood Partners (NPEG) is devoted to reducing the number of persons injured and killed by the use of handguns that are obtained by straw purchases and then distributed or sold on the streets illegally. It consists of numerous churches, synagogues, and civic organizations in Philadelphia and is affiliated with the faith-based group Heeding God’s Call.” (NPEG Facebook page)
This group is not trying to stop others from legal gun ownership or recreational use of guns. We are, however, trying to end the practice of straw purchases at gun shops. This practice is when a person, who cannot pass the background check, enters a gun shop with someone they have paid, who can pass the check, to purchase several guns at one time. These guns often make it into the hands of criminals in our city and the resultant violence from these weapons is criminal.
One of the things this group does is hold vigils in front of an area gun shop to try to convince them to sign a Code of Conduct pledge that Wal-Mart and other gun shops have signed to make sure their gun purchases are all legal and aboveboard. Some may disagree with this endeavor but it is something I believe in passionately.
So we pray as a group and carry signs asking for the gun shop owner to sign the code. A sign I love to carry says, “Honk to end gun violence.” We get a LOT of honks. It is something I take my son to. He walks the “picket” line with me. He is passionate about it as well. He says it is his way to affect the future where he lives. And it makes me proud that he has over half a dozen picket line experiences under his belt.
As I said – I am not trying to stop anyone from buying or owning guns (even though I wish that for our culture). I am trying to make my community a safer place for my family and for other families in the city and wider world. And as I walk the picket line – or vigil line – or sign line (I really do not like the language that is available for what we are doing but will use it for now) – I know I am doing a small part to make the world safer and less violent. Some folks do not like what we are doing but for me and my family – it is an important part of our faith and community life. And walking for justice with my son is an amazing thing.
We walk for those who can’t. We walk to make a point. We walk to change hearts and minds. We walk to make a difference.
What are you walking for? For what cause are you giving your time and your efforts? May you find something that gets you on your feet and into your community.