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Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness is a grassroots association dedicated to promoting biblical values of justice, care of creation, peace and nonviolent solutions to conflict.

LIPW EVENT: Autumn Peace Forum – Sep 22, 2013

Categories: LIPW Events,Peace Advocacy,Violence in Society

Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness is pleased to announce
The Autumn Peace Forum
Sunday, September 22 @ 3:00 PM
Fondersmith Auditorium, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
31 South Duke Street, Lancaster, PA

The speaker will be the Honorable Mayor J. Richard Gray, Lancaster
Discussion Theme: “Approaches to Reasonable Gun Regulation”
Response and Discussion  lead by Attorney J. Dwight  Yoder, 
Partner with Gibbel Kraybill and Hess, Practicing in Civil Rights Litigation

Mayor Gray is a former defense lawyer, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Chair of the National Local Government Advisory Committee

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LIPW, in its monthly Board meeting held April 20, 2013, adopted the Statements of the Mayors Against Legal Guns and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
  • We need to require criminal background checks every time a gun is sold. We need to take military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines off our streets. And we need to make gun trafficking a federal crime with tough penalties.
  • An overwhelming majority of Americans support common sense gun reform. But to make sure they stand up to the gun lobby and pass legislation, your members of Congress need to hear from you.
  • Mayors can do a lot to maintain public safety. But when guns are crossing state lines and gun traffickers are exploiting loopholes to avoid background checks, it’s time for a national solution. That’s why today, more than 900 mayors have joined together to say: Enough. And more than 1.4 million supporters like you have joined together to tell Washington that the time has come.

Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness supports the position of Friends’ Committee on National Legislation, and the coalition of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence in the following ways:

  1. Require universal background checks. Every person who buys a gun should pass a criminal background check via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS)
  2. Renew and update the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. High capacity weapons and ammunition magazines should not be available to citizens.
  3. Enforce gun trafficking as a federal crime. We should empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers, and their entire criminal networks.

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The following letter appeared in Lancaster Sunday News, June 30, 2013

To the Families of Newtown,

It is a sad truth of our times that though you do not know us, we all too well know of you. The tragedy that came to Sandy Hook Elementary School shook the nation; it shook those of us who are members of the Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness. LIPW is an interdenominational group of clergy and laypeople that cares deeply about bringing shalom in all senses of the word to all of God’s creatures. Violence in its many forms can only wound and divide. That is why we seek steps, no matter how small, to end violence; it is why we seek healing.

Most of us have never lived in or visited Newtown, though one member actually lived in Sandy Hook and knows people directly affected by the shooting. All of us, however, are united in grieving with you. But grieving, alone, is not enough. We must work to ensure that tragedies such as yours do not continue to occur. To that end, we have recently supported two initiatives for sensible gun control (see below). They call for common sense ideas, such as universal background checks, the renewal and strengthening of the assault weapons ban, and the classification of gun trafficking as a federal crime. We have followed in the press the efforts of many of the Sandy Hook families to bring about universal background checks and we share with them disappointment at the recent failure of Congress to pass such legislation. However, the work has only begun. We will continue to press for well-needed gun control. We just wanted you to know of our support for what you have attempted to do.

But more importantly, we want you to know that we support you as people, as a community that has endured such loss and pain. You remain in our prayers.

The Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness
Lancaster County, PA
May 16, 2013

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On July 16, 2013, Board Members Urbane Peachey and Bob Lowing meet with Mayor Rick Gray to plan for Mayor Gray’s presentation to LIPW on 22 September 2013. Below are notes from this meeting.
  1. Topic: Gray emphasized that he is sensitive to gun owner’s interests in hunting, target shooting, and legitimate needs for personal protection. He expressed his commitment to reasonable gun regulation. He played around with a topic title “Reasonable Firearms Legislation.” He does not endorse a single approach to gun regulation in contrast to the more focused approach taken by the NRA. He said they regard compromise as “letting the camel get his nose under the hem of the tent.” Gray has experience as a prosecuting attorney and president of the local Bar Association to inform his approach. He is also mentioned that he was a member of the “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.” He said there are 200 mayors in PA and 300,000 member of the NRA.
  2. Topic: Gray did not know whether his position on gun regulation would affect his election positively or negatively. He recommended that we listen to his debate with John Hohenwarter (NRA liaison with PA) on Smart Talk to get a sense of how he performs when challenged by individuals who do not share his views.
  3. Program: Gray agreed to speak with a follow-up Responder and Q & A. We agreed on a time frame for his address, but he seemed reluctant give a formal address. Urbane floated some possible names for responders. Gray had no suggestions, but responded positively to Urbane’s suggestions.
  4. Venue: Gray approved of the proposed locations: Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church or Community Mennonite. St. James Episcopal Church was also mentioned.
  5. Honorarium: Gray declined to accept an honorarium and offhandedly suggested a donation to a fire company.
  6. Publicity: Gray suggested that we do what we usually do. It was unclear to me if he had a publicity officer or a preference for channels of communication.
  7. My impression is that Gray would feel comfortable with the LIPW constituents. He is not on a Crusade. He was willing to talk freely about the racial issues of the Zimmerman case. He spoke about the sharp cultural differences of urban, rural and suburban gun owners and residents. He stated flatly that it is too easy to get a gun license in PA. He clearly articulated his understanding of the difference between the Second Amendment and the Pennsylvania Gun Laws, particularly on the matter of the Castle Statutes. He offered anecdotes about the failure of background checks of possible gun owners. He appears to favor a legislative approach to reform through existing government structures.
Author: LIPW