DC-area faith leaders demand gun safety legislation

WASHINGTON — A dozen faith leaders from the District, some representing national congregations, gathered Tuesday to demand legislative action to reduce gun violence.

The leader of one of the oldest and largest houses of worship in the nation’s capital said failing to act makes lawmakers complicit in the deaths of gun victims such as those killed in Las Vegas Sunday night.

“For our leaders to fail to enact new legislation to protect our right to live free from gun violence is to be complicit to this crime. It is a moral failure we cannot afford,” said the senior rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation, M. Bruce Lustig.

The gathering occurred at Washington National Cathedral, where the Bourdon Bell sounded 60 times at midday to remember the 59 victims, as well as the gunman, who killed himself. As of Tuesday afternoon, the death count was expected to rise, and 527 people were wounded.

“We don’t know the motive, but we are fully aware of the means,” said Rev. Thomas Bowen of the D.C. Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs said. “Guns in fact, do kill people.”

“We don’t need more and more and more guns,” said Imam Albert Savir, executive assistant of The Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad.

Speaking for the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and the World Council of Churches, which represents about 500 million Christians around the world, Jim Winkler noted that the previous largest mass shooting in the U.S. happened just 15 months ago in Orlando, Florida.

He expressed dismay that an ordinary citizen would be allowed to own such lethal weapons.

“We call upon the U.S. Congress to enact common-sense legislation banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines,” Winkler said.

Noting that proposals from a presidential task force assembled after the massacre in Sandy Hook went nowhere in Congress, one faith leader suggested congress try again to reinstate the assault weapons ban, restore a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines, require universal background checks and make gun trafficking a federal crime.

In the audio below, the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde begins with a prayer before the 60 tolls of the funeral bell to remember the victims of Las Vegas. 

November 29, 2020 | The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde: We pray for their strength (WTOP's Kristi King)

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