Remarks at Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America Press Conference
As an active member of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, I was put in touch with the leaders of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and invited to speak at their press conference. I was one of six speakers; others included victims and parents of shootings, including parents from Newtown, CT and Aurora, CO. This press conference was held in response to the National Rifle Association's convention in Indianapolis this weekend.
Good morning. My name is Matthew Ellis and I serve as the CEO of Episcopal Health Ministries, right here in Indianapolis. I am also a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
I am here to join my voice with the many others calling for sensible reforms to end gun violence in our communities. I am not the only one in the faith community that believes we need to solve this problem. For instance, people of all faiths observed the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend last month, which was coordinated by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence.
Our familiarity with this issue dates back decades. The Episcopal Church has formally advocated for sensible gun legislation since at least 1976, when our church called on Congress to adopt effective gun legislation. We have continued to call on others to take steps to reduce gun violence while working in our communities to reduce the factors that lead to violence.
Unfortunately, the call for sensible gun legislation has largely been ignored by our legislators. We know that there are simple, common sense measures that will save lives and that are supported by the vast majority of the public. We all know 90% of Americans support background checks, because they don’t infringe on Second Amendment rights, but they also can keep guns out of dangerous hands.
The Episcopal Church in particular knows firsthand of the devastating impact of gun violence. On May 2 of 2012 a homeless man entered a church in Ellicott City, Maryland and shot and killed a priest and church secretary. He later killed himself as well. That day had a traumatic impact in our community – but knowing similar episodes take place all across this country every single day is equally as traumatic. Eighty six people are killed every single day with guns in our country.
I recently attended a conference in Oklahoma devoted to the Episcopal Church’s response to gun violence. In his opening remarks, Bishop Ed Konieczny said:
“We are here to have a new conversation; a conversation that says we are not willing to accept that violence is a natural part of society; a conversation that acknowledges we live in relationship; and that we are all responsible for how we treat one another; a conversation that talks about how each of us can make a difference; about how each one of us can change the trajectory of violence in our world; A conversation that recognizes and honors the diversity of voices and perspectives and passions.”
My hope is that all people of faith will join us in this conversation and make their voices heard as we continue to advocate for sensible gun legislation. Thank you.
This new TV ad was unveiled during the press conference, along with the report "Not Your Grandparents' NRA'.