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Bishops United Statement on Milwaukee Shooting

February 27, 2020

Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group of more than 100 Episcopal bishops working to curtail the epidemic of gun violence in the United States, released the following statement on the shootings on Wednesday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

Two years ago on Ash Wednesday, unthinkable news from Parkland, Florida, punctuated our Lenten prayers and forced us once again to repent of our nation’s sinful refusal to end the epidemic of gun violence. Yesterday, on another Ash Wednesday, that epidemic claimed six lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Again this year, our Lenten journey must begin with a cry of lamentation and repentance for the evil that enslaves our nation.

We pray for the five Molson Coors workers who were murdered yesterday by a co-worker, for their families, and for the gunman himself, who took his own life. We pray too for the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee and for Bishop Steven Miller, a vocal advocate for state and federal gun safety legislation who helped found our network in the wake of another mass shooting in his state—this one in 2012 at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.


We pray not as a substitute for action but in preparation for it. In April, many members of our network will again travel to Washington D.C. to meet with elected officials and urge passage of commonsense gun legislation that has been stalled by partisan discord that places the fortunes of politicians above the fates of their constituents.


During these visits, we will share with our legislators the stories of the movement against gun violence that has spread across the Episcopal Church. We will tell them about our advocacy for policies, laws and programs that will protect our children, safeguard those who suffer the pain of mental illness and despair, and dismantle the unholy trinity of poverty, gun violence and racism. We will describe the liturgies and litanies that we offer to comfort those who mourn. And we will demand that they vote in the interests of all Americans, including law-abiding gun owners, to pass lifesaving, common sense gun policies that will help bring an end to our persistent pleas.


We invite all Episcopalians to join us in this movement. Visit our website and Facebook page to learn more about how to advocate for commonsense policies that can reduce gun violence, hold gun manufacturers and the banks that finance them accountable, and witness to the God of life who offers hope even as we contemplate, yet again, the face of death.


Statistics verify that ninety-six (96) people die each day in the United States as a result of gun violence.  Whether one subscribes to a political world of blue or red, it is the responsibility of the Church to engage in whatever is occurring in our context theologically.  Furthermore, it is our responsibility and our covenant to speak love, peace and justice into all circumstances.  This means that we must engage in the challenging conversations of violence as a result of gun possession and how are we to respond as a faith community in addressing this pandemic problem.

Bishops United against Gun Violence (which includes our own Bishop David Rice) has joined with Wear Orange to highlight the nature of Gun Violence in the United States.   The Wear Orange campaign encourages everyone to wear orange on June 2 to demonstrate growing US support to curb gun violence.   The Wear Orange campaign was started after Chicago student Haydia Pendleton was shot.   When describing why they chose to wear orange, Pendleton’s friends commented, Explaining the action, they said, “Orange is used because hunters wear the color to warn other hunters not to shoot. By wearing orange, we are showing others that we are human and wish not be gunned down.”

Bishops United Against Gun Violence urges our cities, states and nation to adopt policies and pass legislation that will reduce the number of Americans killed and wounded by gunfire. These include common sense gun safety measures that enjoy the support of gun owners alike, such as:

    • handgun purchaser licensing

    • background checks on all gun purchasers

    • restrictions on gun ownership by domestic abusers

    • classification of gun trafficking as a federal crime

    • encouragement for the development of “smart gun” technology

    • federal funding for research into gun violence prevention strategies

    • safe storage of firearms

Talking points from the bishops  include data and statistics about gun violence and at-risk populations.   It includes polling surveys on how the public views gun violence.  The Bishop’s Statement  lists the purpose and intent for Bishops United Against Gun Violence.

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