Please Stand in Solidarity Against Gun Violence: A Note from Friends in Philadelphia

Earlier this year in Philadelphia, I was privileged to participate in a gathering opposing violence and imagining creative strategies for faith-based peace activism.  Dozens of the participants took park in a non-violent witness against gun violence, specifically the lax protocols on weapon sales, and some were arrested.  The trial is next week; if you're in the Philadelphia area, please consider attending to show your solidarity with the defendants; if you're not nearby, there are several other options suggested below, alongside the proposed code of conduct for gun sales.

Gun violence goes on trial!

Be there

On Tuesday, May 26

twelve people of faith will face trial

for an act of conscience witnessing against the plague of violence

in our streets and our communities

fueled by the availability of illegal weapons.

In January 2009, 12 people were arrested while participating in nonviolent direct action to pressure Colosimo’s Gun Center to sign a Code of Conduct for Responsible Gun Dealers.  Following several weeks of discussion between the gun shop owner and a delegation of local religious leaders, these 12 individuals went to the store to once again ask the owner to sign the code.  They remained there waiting for his agreement, and were arrested.

They were charged with a variety of crimes, including misdemeanor trespass, misdemeanor disorderly conduct, blocking a sidewalk and criminal conspiracy. They spent between 12 and 27 hours in jail before being released.  The defendants include community advocates from Camden and Philadelphia, ordained Christian clergy from 3 denominations and a Jewish rabbi.

Please stand with us to send a dramatic signal on behalf of the young people that suffer most from this epidemic of violence.  They’ve lost friends and siblings, they’ve lost hope.  We need to show that we are willing to risk, to sacrifice, to struggle for ourselves, for them and with them.

“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The 10 points of the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership are:

Videotaping the Point of Sale for All Firearms Transactions. Participating retailers will videotape the point-of-sale of all firearms transactions and maintain videos for 6 months to deter illegal purchases and monitor employees.

Computerized Crime Gun Trace Log and Alert System. Mayors Against Illegal Guns will develop a computerized system that participating retailers will implement over time to log crime gun traces relating to the retailer.  Once the program is in place, if a customer who has a prior trace at that retailer attempts to purchase a firearm, the sale will be electronically flagged.  The retailer would have discretion to proceed with the sale or stop the sale.

Purchaser Declaration. For sales flagged by the trace alert system, participating retailers will ask purchasers to fill out a declaration indicating that they meet the legal requirement to purchase the firearm.

Deterring Fake IDs. Participating retailers will only accept valid federal- or state-issued picture IDs as primary identification.  Retailers will utilize additional ID checking mechanisms.

Consistent Visible Signage. Participating retailers will post signage created by the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership to alert customers of their legal responsibilities at the point-of-sale.

Employee Background Checks. Participating retailers will conduct criminal background checks for all employees selling or handling firearms.

Employee Responsibility Training. Participating retailers will participate in an employee responsibility training program focused on deterring illegal purchasers.  The Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership will create an online training system based on Wal-Mart’s training program.

Inventory Checking. Participating retailers will conduct daily and quarterly audits.  Guidelines will be based on Wal-Mart’s existing audit procedures.

No Sales Without Background Check Results.  Participating retailers would prohibit sales based on “default proceeds,” which are permitted by law when background check has not returned a result within 3 days.

Securing Firearms. Participating retailers will maintain firearms kept in customer accessible areas in locked cases or locked racks.

Participating retailers will phase in the provisions of Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership over time.