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Bishop appoints deputy for gun violence prevention

Bishop appoints deputy for gun violence prevention

From the Diocese of Missouri:

“People of faith must challenge the tragedy of gun violence and I lend my voice to that challenge,” said the Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. “The devastation and grief that follow mass shootings call for prayer, certainly, but they also require action from us. The gun violence in our region, happening nearly every day, calls for the same.” Today Bishop Smith, announced the appointment of the Rev. Marc D. Smith, Ph.D., as Bishop’s Deputy for Gun Violence Prevention.

As well as addressing the issue as a public health problem, and identifying it in the churches as a public health crisis, Marc Smith hopes to develop specific strategies with verifiable outcomes to reduce gun violence. However,

One thing Bishop Smith’s appointment is not is as a political, legislative advocate. While Dr. Smith hopes that people of faith and people in healthcare may choose to shape legislation, “organizationally that will not be our role. Public debate about the many factors associated with gun violence is essential, but our work will be to intervene directly to decrease these numbers now.” This part of the work is missional to Dr. Smith, and he plans to share this message through church pulpits. …

This position began as a conversation two years ago at an Episcopal Presbyterian Health Trust (EPHT) board meeting which Bishop Smith chairs and Dr. Smith serves as member. It came from the desire to “do something strategic, proactive, and highly focused” in the area of gun violence prevention, said Dr. Smith.

Before he was ordained an Episcopal priest in June of 2011, Dr. Smith was Chief Executive Officer and President of the Missouri Hospital Association from 1998 to September 2009. He led the association in access to health care services for the poor, and enhanced the transparency of hospital operations, financing and quality.

Read more about the appointment of a Deputy for Gun Violence Prevention here. Do you have ideas for how the church should be addressing gun violence reduction and prevention?

Featured image: the Rev. Dr. Marc Smith via the Living Church 

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Alvah Whealton

"Recent studies all affirm that the most significant driver of violence in this and any society is income inequality."

I beg your pardon?

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Ann Fontaine

If only the Congress would approve funding for CDC to just collect statistics -- we really have no facts about gun use and abuse. Just anecdotal evidence. Why can't we look at this as a Public Health issue - like we studied deaths and injuries by cars and drivers of cars? Then we can proceed to do something. The clearest difference between this country and all others is the availability of guns.

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Rev. Bill Christy

A gun, like any tool, is no more evil or wicked than the hand holding it! The social issues compelling the hand holding the gun need to be addressed. I would address the lack of funding for adequate social reform and help organizations'. And of course, it all begins and ends with God. Without being firmly grounded in Christ, everything we try to do will come to nothing!

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David Allen

And yet nations with the same social issues, but strict gun control laws, don't have the gun violence that the US does.

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Harry M. Merryman

I support sensible gun control laws. But there are already over 270 million guns in the U.S. (that's over 88 guns per 100 people). This suggests that easy access to guns will be a reality for the foreseeable future. It also suggests, from a purely practical standpoint, that understanding and mitigating the social determinants of violence should receive much more of our attention.

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Stephen Mills

Recent studies all affirm that the most significant driver of violence in this and any society is income inequality. The greater the level of income inequality, the greater the level of violence, so the first task of anyone concerned with violence must be to be just as concerned with income inequality. Next where is the violence located? The vast bulk of the violence in our society occurs in the inner city. Improve the inner cities and you will decrease the violence. This is root cause mitigation. Improve the schools, establish job training programs, help at risk youth, and give the people living in the inner city hope of a better life. It is that simple. And as a result society as a whole will benefit. Another significant cause of violence both in the inner city and outside it is the war on drugs. End the war on drugs and use the money for treatment programs. One hundred years and countless billions of dollars later, illegal drugs can be found in every state of the union. What we have done is to funnel billions of dollars in illicit profits to the most vicious elements in our society. When a drug dealer gets ripped off, they do not call on the police they exact vengeance. Then the other side retaliates and the cycle of violence perpetuates and escalates. We must stop treating addicts as criminals. Finally, the cause of most gun deaths is suicide. Increased and improved mental health programs could easily save some of those lives. Right now the mental health treatment system in this country is deplorable. The institution housing the largest number of mentally ill people is the Cook County Jail. Jails and prisons are not organized or equipped to treat mental illness. Our programs and institutions to treat the mentally ill must be improved. These measures will save lives.

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David Allen

Do you have evidence that drug dealers are addicts, because you state that the violence is drug dealers retaliating against being ripped off and creating a retaliatory cycle of violence. Then you make a leap about not treating addicts as criminals. Drug dealer violence is a separate issue from the criminalization of addicts!

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David Allen

How does ending the War on Drugs mean there will be no more drug dealers? There will still be a demand. Someone will still be selling drugs.

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Stephen Mills

David, if we abandon the War on Drugs there will be no drug dealers with their associated violence and we can funnel the money into rehabilitation rather than treating drug users as criminals and incarcerating them. This will mean the end of cartels and the associated violence. Does this clarify things for you?

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