Gun Violence Prevention Task Force
The GVPTF was formed in response to the tremendous impact that firearm violence has in our society – over 30,000 deaths and 50,000 non-fatal woundings annually. Of the deaths, the majority represent suicide, highlighting the public health nature of the epidemic. Colorado is in the top 5 states in suicides. Most suicide attempts using guns are successful. GVPTF was formed to bring attention and awareness to the issue, and to work to reduce the toll of gun related violence in our society.
April 2017 Updates:
Each year during the session, the legislature deals with new bills designed to repeal the common sense gun laws that have been enacted during previous years. It is a repetitive exercise but members of First Universalist’s Rapid Response Network can be relied upon to contact the Senate and House hearing committees to request “no” votes on the challenges. On March 22, three bills familiar to our RRN members, were presented for a vote to the House State, Veterans and Military affairs committee. These included SB17-005 which supported handgun training for school employees, SB17-006, allowing concealed carry for those members of the military under 21 years and SB-007 which would repeal the ban on high capacity magazines.
The hearings were preceded by a press conference sponsored by the Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence, where two young students as well as speakers from the Colorado Education Association, Parent Teacher Association and CFCU, the interfaith coalition to which First Universalist belongs, registered their opposition to the bills. CFCU was represented by ten congregations. Marcia Lamb, Jackson Turnacliffe, Marcia Hughes and Carole McCahill of the GVP task force attended the press conference and Gene Drumm, along with other members of CFCU, testified during the afternoon. Much jubilation attended the defeat of all the bills at the House hearings but the session is not yet over. We are alert to more expected assaults on our gun laws. Nevertheless, many thanks are owed to our Rapid Response network members as well as those who supported the press conference and the hearings.
The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, as well as CFCU, were founded largely as a response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in 2012. A new film, entitled “Newtown”, showing the resilience of parents, teachers and first responders to that tragedy aired April 3 on RMPBS. The film runs about 80 minutes and can be viewed here: video.rmpbs.org.
The facts below were shared during the worship service on Sunday, September 25, 2016 as part of our participation in The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence. Click on the links following each statistic to see the source of the numbers.
- One person is killed by a gun every 16 minutes. (CDC)
- There are over 12,000 gun murders in the US every year. (CDC)
- There have been over 170 school shootings since Sandy Hook (about one per week). (Everytown)
- 1,700,000 children and teens live in homes with unlocked guns which are loaded. (Pedatrics)
- America’s gun murder rate is more than the average of other developed
countries by 25 times. (American Journal of Medicine)
- Orlando: 49 killed on June 12, 2016 / US: 228 killed by gun week after Orlando nightclub shooting / Japan: 12 killed by gun all of 2013.
(Miami Herald; The Trace; Washington Post)
- In an average month in the US, 51 women are shot to death by their intimate partners. (Violence Policy Center)
- 48 children and teens are shot every day (over 17,500 each year). (Brady Center)
On September 25, 2016, the First Universalist Singers under John Hubert performs the Leonard Cohen “Hallelujah” with special messaging by CFCU members in front of 3 empty chairs.
Congregational Resolution Against Gun Violence
- Urging the Center for Disease Control to study and publish data on gun violence since this is a public health problem.
- Educating the public about the need for research, funding and appropriate support for those with severe mental illness.
- Maintaining the sensible gun violence prevention laws enacted in Colorado.
- Requiring any purchaser of a firearm to undergo a rigorous background check.
- Speaking out for our convictions on this issue to legislators as well as in town meetings and to the media.
- Continuing to partner with interfaith groups and community activists.
The goals of the GVPTF are:
Research and Education
- To gather information about the problems of gun violence.
- To educate our congregation and community about these issues.
- Have Sunday morning Community Forums on gun issues.
- Maintain a kiosk in Friendship Hall with literature from various organizations staffed by well-informed people who can answer questions.
- Work with the Worship Committee for a Sunday morning devoted to gun issues.
Outreach and Collaboration
- To reach out to other faith communities in the Denver area and collaborate on finding ways to reduce gun violence in our society & help solidify the formation of a coalition of faith communities against gun violence.
- To join forces with groups such as Colorado Ceasefire, Everytown for Gun Safety, Hunters for Gun Safety.
- To collaborate with the UUA and UU communities in the Denver area on gun violence prevention activities and actions.
- Plan UU events in the Denver area that are devoted to gun issues.
- Encourage people to actively express their views against gun violence by participating in demonstrations, vigils, circulating petitions, and other actions to influence legislators and the public.
- Work with the UUA and GA to address the issue and update their resolution on gun violence prevention.