It’s become almost routine to see the TV images and newspaper headlines regarding the latest mass shooting in the U.S. Less spectacular but more common are daily incidents of gun violence in urban America. In Chester alone, eleven gun-related homicides since the beginning of 2016. Plus other shootings, such as the non-fatal incident involving two teenagers alighting from a school bus.
Chester Eastside, Inc., already having committed itself to work on behalf of sensible gun policy, is taking new steps in that direction, The CEI Board recently voted unanimously to sign on to a Declaration of Principles sponsored by PA United for Background Checks. The statement speaks forthrightly about the need to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a danger to the rest of us.
Rev. Bernice Warren, Chester Eastside’s Executive Director, recently co-authored a letter to the editor of the Swarthmorean, on behalf of Heeding God’s Call, a faith-based organization which works to end gun violence in Chester and elsewhere. The letter talked about two crimes in that school bus incident mentioned above: that of the teen who pulled the trigger, wounding another student, and the action of the “straw purchaser,” the one who supplied a weapon to someone too young to qualify to buy it.
As a 501.c.3 tax-exempt organization, CEI is forbidden to engage in outright lobbying and other explicitly political activities. But, contrary to a common perception, the law allows organizations like CEI the opportunity to inform the public regarding a range of issues, including gun violence.
It is an opportunity that CEI has seized, because to do otherwise would be irresponsible, considering the danger guns can pose, not just to urban communities like Chester, but to all of us, wherever we live. Aside from the terrible toll in terms of victims and their loved ones, there is the psychological trauma that a violent world can cause, especially among the young.
One more example of where CEI sees its role, not just as helping to repair broken lives and meet basic needs, but to address underlying causes as well.