Episcopalians respond to presidential gun measures

President Obama spoke from the White House about an hour ago, outlining the executive actions that he is taking to address gun control measures and gun violence in the US, a problem that he called urgent.

As the executive actions are examined, more responses are expected. In the meantime, NPR summarized the speech here. The Episcopalians Against Gun Violence Facebook page linked to an article by Vox to explain the President’s proposals, while the Rt Revd Scott Hayashi, Bishop of Utah, also on Facebook, declared himself “excited” to share the Public Fact Sheet distributed by the White House.

NPR reported on the president’s speech live today:

Saying that America faces a “gun violence epidemic,” President Obama is taking “a series of commonsense executive actions” to reduce gun violence Tuesday, the White House says. First among the measures: tighter rules on background checks for gun buyers. ..

“We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency,” Obama said. “It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close.” …

Update at 12:18 p.m. ET: ‘The Rest Of Our Rights’

Saying that Second Amendment rights matter, President Obama adds:

“There are other rights that we care about, as well, and we have to be able to balance them. Because our right to worship freely and safely — that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, S.C.; and that was denied Jews in Kansas City; and that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek. They had rights, too.”
He then says the right of peaceful assembly has been robbed in movie theaters in Colorado and Louisiana — and the pursuit of happiness and liberty has also been taken away in attacks on schools.

“Those rights were stripped from college kids in Blacksburg, in Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers in Columbine, and from first graders in Newtown.”

While applause had followed the president’s listing of those events, his final words about students were said after an emotional pause; they were greeted with silence in the room.

The president repeated: “First graders.”

As he attempted to move on with his speech, Obama paused to wipe a tear from his eye.

“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” he said, his eyes now wet with tears. “And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.”

NPR summarized four key platforms of the president’s plan.

  • Background Checks: Require all gun sellers — including online and at gun shows — to have a license and perform background checks. Have the FBI overhaul the existing background-check system.
  • Enforcement: Improve the use of America’s existing gun laws, and add 200 new agents to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
  • Mental Health: Remove barriers that can keep states from reporting and sharing information about people barred from owning guns for mental health reasons, and spend $500 million to increase access to mental health care.
  • Technology: Push for research in gun safety technology, such as “smart guns” that can only be fired by authorized users. The research would be done by the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security. The White House notes the federal government is “the single largest purchaser of firearms in the country.”

On Twitter, the Revd Susan Russell responded enthusiastically to the speech,


while Bishop James Mathes of San Diego tweeted that our baptism requires our support for universal background checks.


What is your response? What have you heard from others that you would like to share?

Photo: President Obama tears up talking about the first graders who died at Sandy Hook in 2012. Via whitehouse.gov


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