THIS IS WHAT I KNOW-Depending on which side of the issue you rest, gun control (or Second Amendment Rights) are hot button issues in the presidential race. Closer to home, Temple Isaiah in Beverly Hills, has formed a Gun Legislation Advocacy Committee, which has joined other faith-based organizations to form the Interfaith Coalition to End Gun Violence in the Los Angeles area.
Two months ago, sixty concerned people from all over Los Angeles filled an auditorium at Holman United Methodist Church with one common goal: keep their communities safe. Amy Phillips, a member of the GLAC, Moms Demand Action and other groups, share a philosophy, “Gun violence knows no geographic boundaries; no ethnic, gender, or age limits. From schools to movie theaters, from churches to street corners, a bullet finds its victim.”
Phillips says, “I couldn’t comprehend after Newtown that this was going on. People were getting shot and our policy makers refused to do anything about it. I thought I can’t just sit here and complain or post on Facebook. My little involvement won’t change the whole system but if I didn’t, there would be one less person doing it.”
When Phillips joined GLAC two years ago, one of the first actions she took was to get involved in creating an arts and advocacy program for 9th and 10th grade students in the religious school, all of whom had experienced a lockdown. Phillips thought kids could create posters with social messages. She showed the students a clip reel of new stories from the past decade which impacted them.
This past year, the students used their phones to create videos on topics ranging from the gun issue to save the earth and Cast LA, an organization that works with women who are enslaved sexually or for labor. “The kids got to choose the topic and there was no budget, other than paper. They came up with creative videos, which they intend to tweet to candidates. The kids who chose the gun issue really got it,” she says. “We wanted to teach them advocacy through the arts.”
GLAC is part of the Interfaith Coalition to End Gun Violence, with representatives from different temples, churches, and nondenominational groups – all of whom, as Phillips explains, are “fighting the same battle, getting everyone on the same page.” Phillips says meeting people who deal with gun violence on a daily basis was eye-opening. One of the steps her group wants to take is to bring the arts advocacy program to Holman United Methodist Church.
While Phillips encourages people to consider choosing candidates who have positive records or stances on gun restrictions, she says GLAC and other groups focus on community-based activism. She believes most law-abiding gun owners want better gun laws, to make sure guns are locked up so that three-year olds can’t go around shooting, but they may be intimidated to share their stance with the NRA.
By getting involved on the local and state level with groups like the Interfaith Coalition and Moms Demand Action, Phillips says we can make a difference. “Gun violence is everyone’s issue. I don’t just want to be involved. I need to be involved. I cannot be idle and continue to see innocent people die and families ruined. The Interfaith Coalition to End Gun Violence is my pathway in,” she says.
Action Info: For more information on GLAC at Temple Isaiah and the Interfaith Coalition to End Gun Violence, contact Karen Sloan at [email protected].
(Beth Cone Kramer is a successful Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.