Diocesan Position Statement on Secure Gun Storage
April 2018, St. Louis. Bishop Wayne Smith and the Diocesan Council approved this statement on safe gun storage. A copy has been distributed to diocesan parishes to encourage them to regularly include the sentence on gun safety in their service bulletins and on their web sites. Learn more about gun violence prevention in the Diocese of Missouri at http://diocesemo.org/GVP.
POSITION STATEMENT ON SECURE GUN STORAGE
The Rev. Marc D. Smith, Ph.D., Bishop’s Deputy for Gun Violence Prevention in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, respectfully requests that Diocesan Council adopt the following position statement regarding the safe and secure storage of guns.
“The Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri implores gun owners to lock and secure weapons against use by children or those suffering from agonizing despair.”
Furthermore, it is requested that Diocesan Council encourages all parishes in the diocese regularly to include the following sentence in their service bulletins and on their web sites.
“Please ensure that all guns in your home are locked and secured against use by children or those suffering agonizing despair.”
Background and Rationale
In 2017, the Vestry of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in the Bowery, New York City, adopted this position on gun safety and placed an advertisement in The Episcopal New Yorker encouraging each parish to take similar action. Support for the safe storage of guns is broadly endorsed by the medical and public health communities as essential to eliminating accidental shootings of children and markedly reducing suicides without compromising rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Recognizing the vulnerability of children and those suffering from depression or profound despair, the Diocese of Missouri entered into a partnership in 2016 with Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice for the purchase a distribution of gun locks through its “Lock It for Love” initiative. To date, almost 3,000 locks have been purchased and distributed free-of-charge throughout eastern Missouri. The current request of Diocesan Council is an extension of this ministry.
In addition to its work on “Lock It for Love,” the Office of the Bishop, through the Deputy for Gun Violence Prevention, also is engaged with the newly organized regional Violence Prevention Commission, Washington University and various social service agencies and community organizations to support safe gun storage, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of specific strategies.
(Photo credit Lock it for Love, 2018)