In the lead-up to a June 11 “March for our Lives” in Atlanta, Episcopalians are focusing on developing new tactics to lessen the numbing, decades-long, repetition of mass shootings.
On June 5, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, WABE radio’s Lisa Hagen gave more than 100 attendees at a “Wear Orange for Victims of Gun Violence” event her unvarnished assessment of the disturbing trends now radicalizing America’s gun culture.
Hagen said she and a reporting partner in Missouri discovered while working on the 2021 Pulitzer Prize-winning podcast No Compromise, that instead of being directed by The National Rifle Association, the peeling away of state gun safety laws has been primarily the work of small, fringe actors.
Hagen said they focused their podcast on three brothers in Missouri who have built a social media empire around their unapologetic vision of gun rights—generating millions of likes, follows, and dollars. Key players in the most uncompromising corner of the gun debate, the Dorr brothers have turned hot-button issues like constitutional carry into donations and controversy.
“What we found was that these local state-level gun rights activists are shaping gun laws in conservative states, like Georgia and across the country. And at the end of the day, it’s state gun laws, not federal ones, that have the most direct impact,” she said.
Until recently, Hagen said, constitutional carry, which does away with background checks and gun licenses for concealed carry, was such a fringe idea that police and most gun rights advocates thought it was ill-advised. By 2022, it has become an accepted concept for some, including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who on April 13, signed the state’s constitutional carry law. View his signing event.
Event organizer Ray Uttenhove, gun violence prevention lead of St. Luke’s Faith and Advocacy Network (FAN), capped the event by asking that the audience accept “three invitations, because we must be more intentional about what we’re doing.”
Her first invitation; join March for Our Lives on June 11 which begins at 1 p.m. at Ebenezer (Baptist Church) and ends at the Capitol. “It’s important that we show up and be a presence, she said.
“The second invitation, and to Lisa’s point, is that we have to think about the leaders we are electing here. Federal elections are important, but we have to start locally. We have to start at the state level, and it takes a lot of work.
“Another realization from today for me is that we are beating our heads against the wall,” Uttenhove said, “Is that we may not end the filibuster, or get a federal law passed, so we must get creative.
“So, my third invitation to you is that we take time – and we’ll organize this at St. Luke’s – to engage in some conversations that take a different approach. Because I am tired of being discouraged. I just read that Gabby Gifford said, ‘We must have a voice, even if we have to fight to find the words.’ And if she can do it, we can do it!
“If the Dore brothers can figure out how to take a small group of people and shift the way this country is thinking about guns, then we as people of faith can, and must, find a way to change the narrative (that it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun) to one that says, “Guns don’t save lives, but people can.”