Black pastors take gun control into their own hands

In the wake of Congress’ inability to pass a gun-control bill, a broad coalition of African American pastors has announced … Continued

In the wake of Congress’ inability to pass a gun-control bill, a broad coalition of African American pastors has announced a new nationwide campaign designed to curb the appetite for people to use handguns that they say has led to the preaching of far too many funerals in their community.

In addition to signing a three-year “covenant” in which they plan to work with more “community-based” organizations to slow the tide of gun violence, the pastors were briefed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) and officials from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on the legislative status of the gun bill since it failed to pass in the Senate.

The Rev. Carroll A. Baltimore, senior president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, said the gun problem in the African American community is too critical to wait for a political solution at a time when, in cities such as Chicago, there have been more than 500 murders this year.

“Our call today begins with pastors, leaders and the unsung heroes who represent the leaders of African America as they lead our houses of worship,” said Baltimore, flanked by more than two dozen pastors, during a news conference at the 19th Street Baptist Church that was held to coincide with a press event held by pastors in Los Angeles at the same time.

The Rev. Barbara Williams Skinner, co-convener of the African American Church Gun Control Coalition, said in the same way black pastors led the Civil Rights campaigns in the 1960s, “we as clergy are stepping out and stepping up as advocates against the vicious circle of gun violence in our community.”

In addition to national religious leaders at the event, a number of local pastors were present, including the Rev. L.B. West, pastor of Mount Airy Baptist Church, which is on North Capitol Street NW near where 13 people were recently shot during a drive-by shooting.

“We don’t manufacture guns, we don’t have gun shops in our community, guns are brought to our community,” West said. “I was very appalled at what happened in the Senate, but we have to have a comprehensive approach now, to not just address young people — we have to deal with the parents, the uncles and the entire village from every aspect.”

Pastor Jermone Buie of Could Be Me Ministries City of Hope said that this summer, he plans to have a tent crusade to reach young people.

The Rev. Melvin Maxwell, senior pastor of East Friendship Baptist Church, said other pastors need to face the reality that they are disconnected from many of the young people with guns.

“Until the churches engage the brothers in the street, nothing will change,” Maxwell said. “Congress will never do it because the black community is a central part of the gun profits. Some of the gang members have guns to protect their community. We are going to have to touch the hearts of the young people.”

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  • Bob Owens

    So these pastors are going to rail against the tool, instead of the drug-fueled, low–class, abortion-crazed, education-hating, government-dependant culture they’ve helped create over the past 60 years.

    It makes sense; blaming a tool is far easier than looking in a mirror to blame the man.

  • Corporal_B

    It is just too easy for many folks to target guns as the solution to the ravaged neighborhoods in the inner-cities plagued by violence, They need to break the culture of silence and fear from retribution when folks cooperate with police. We also need to look at the way we have waged the so call “War on Drugs.”

    Its time to have a real debate on these social issues. We need the court records that adjudicated mentally deranges folks that are a danger to themselves or others uploaded into the National Database. Toomey’s bill would have secured that and I am sad it did not pass.

    However, beyond improving the background check database, as a country we have to ask how do we build cooperation with these most violent neighborhoods. Banning so call “assault weapons” are a feel good measure for the pastors and legislators that serve those neighborhoods. It makes a good speech, but short on effectiveness.

  • Winston Smith

    What a great opportunity for these pastors, as they lead a march through the neighborhoods singing “please give up your guns” to the tune of “we shall overcome” in hopes of cleaning up and pastor-izing their communities. Lets hope they are wearing Kevlar during this crusade.