Guns: a public health problem for everyone

As local clergy representing many faith traditions, the members of the Greater New London Clergy Association continue to be alarmed by the number of deaths and injuries from gun violence. No matter our theological perspective, we share a common belief in the sanctity of human life. It is this belief that drives our deep concern at the ever increasing number of deaths, injuries and trauma caused by gun violence. 

The statistics are alarming. In the U.S. over 36,000 people die each year by firearms and over 100,000 are injured. Two thirds of these deaths are by suicide. These shocking statistics are equivalent to almost 100 deaths, a mass shooting, every day. This crisis demands our attention and action. 

Connecticut is among states leading the way in passing common sense legislation to reduce deaths and injuries caused by guns — not seeking to ban the ownership of firearms, but rather to require their responsible storage and use and to limit access by those most likely to abuse the right of gun ownership. However, there is more work to be done. 

As people of faith, we have gathered for vigils and have offered prayers in response to mass shootings. Now we are doing our part to help raise public awareness of gun violence as an issue of ongoing concern. To this end, the Greater New London Clergy Association has invited Megan Ranney, M.D., M.P.H. to speak to our community. She is associate professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice, and associate professor of Emergency Medicine at Brown University. Dr Ranney all too frequently witnesses the gruesome impact of firearms. 

Dr. Ranney's experience on the front lines of the gun violence epidemic has motivated her to pursue data-driven approaches to saving lives. Under the auspices of Affirm, a public health research collective that she helped found, Dr. Ranney is looking for common sense solutions that allow those on the political left and right to unite to save lives. 

We invite all those in the greater New London area to join with us at 7 p.m. June 12 at the Baker Auditorium at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital as we explore ways we can reduce the toll guns take on our families and our community. As an informed public we can do much more than offer victims of gun violence our thoughts and prayers.

The Rev. Carolyn Patierno and Rabbi Rachel Safman are co-chairs of the Greater New London Clergy Association.

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