The 2024 Festival of Faiths begins Sunday, August 25

August 19, 2019

Calling upon lawmakers to take action in response to upsurge in Gun Violence

TO: Federal, state and law elected officials in Southwest Ohio

We, the undersigned faith organizations, communities and individuals from across the Cincinnati region are strongly united in calling for immediate action to address gun violence in America. Collectively, we represent 30 faith traditions including 13 world religions, but across our differences, we share a belief in God and in the sanctity of life. And as people of faith, we feel a moral imperative to speak up in the wake of the most recent horrific shootings in El Paso and in our neighboring community of Dayton—where one individual, armed with a military grade weapon, killed nine people and injured twenty-seven others in just 30 seconds.

We are heartbroken, but we are no longer shocked. The shootings this past weekend are not anomalies or isolated tragedies. We have watched in horror as gun violence has invaded our churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. Just this year, 131 people have died in 23 mass killings. By comparison, 140 people died in mass killings in all of 2018, including seventeen innocent children who were murdered in their school in Parkland, Florida. In too recent memory, mass killings have occurred in Colorado (2012), Orlando (2016), Las Vegas (2017) and just last year here in Cincinnati, and in each of these years, there are tens of thousands more gun-related deaths that do not make national headlines.

We recognize and respect the right of law-abiding Americans to own handguns and rifles for legitimate purposes, but we refuse to accept a dystopian future where schools, houses of worship, community centers, shopping malls, theaters, and other venues require armed security, and where children and adults are fearful of going out in public. Along with enhanced security measures and investment in mental health treatment, common-sense gun safety reform is an imperative. We urge you to do everything within your power to prioritize this issue and to enact policy changes that would keep guns out of the hands of those who are most likely to use them for criminal activity, such as red flag laws, universal background checks, restrictions on gun ownership for domestic violence offenders, regulation of “strawman” purchases, and a ban on high-capacity magazines. Polls show that a vast majority of Americans support these actions.

Our faith communities have a deep and abiding concern for public safety. Driven by our belief in the sanctity of life and the commandment against murder, we are committed to a comprehensive approach to confronting gun violence. No single solution will prevent all future tragedies, which is why we advocate for a balanced, multipronged approach. Reasonable gun safety measures must be a piece of that approach.

Our shared value of “compassion through action” instructs that prayer without action is just the recitation of words. The time for lawmakers to act is now.

As the residents of Dayton, Ohio said at their recent vigil, “DO SOMETHING!” Thank you.
Inayat K. Malik
Board Chair
Bridges of Faith Trialogue
Robert C. “Chip” Harrod
Executive Director
(Signed by more than 100 faith leaders.)