Advocacy + Outreach · May 2, 2023

Uvalde, One Year Later

On the eve of the first anniversary of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting that took the lives of 19 children and two adults, Outreach Ministries will begin a series of online events focused on the epidemic of gun violence in the U.S.

The events will feature a conversation with the Rev. Deanna Hollas, the gun violence prevention ministry coordinator for the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship; a discussion of the Rev. Jim Atwood’s book, America and Its Guns: A Theological Exposé (Cascade Books, 2012); and an evening vigil marking National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Details and registration for each event are listed on the right. Atwood’s book is available in libraries and from online retailers, including Amazon.

These events continue Fifth Avenue’s focus on gun violence prevention and healing. The Uvalde shooting in 2022 ushered in a “season of lament” at the church, as we monitored incidents of gun violence in New York state throughout the summer. The church also coordinated a letter-writing campaign urging two major retailers (Bass Pro Shops and Camping World, Inc.) to discontinue sales of semi-automatic guns and high-capacity magazines.

Last October, the Session unanimously approved a statement put forward by the Outreach Committee that committed the church to advocate for:

  • Renewing the nationwide ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines;
  • limiting civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition;
  • adopting measures such as universal background checks to control the sale and use of firearms;
  • passing federal laws to criminalize gun trafficking; improving regulations and limitations on the purchase of handguns; and
  • improving access to, and increasing resources, for mental health care and early interventions.

“As advocates, we must be ceaseless in our work,” says Christine Boyle, director of outreach of missions, who coordinated the upcoming series of events. “Complacency is a danger, because it leads to bad policy dictated by lobbyists and allows those policies to remain in place.”

The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24 was the worst mass shooting in the U.S. in 2022. There were 647 mass shootings nationwide last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group that tracks gun violence using police reports, news coverage and other public sources. The organization defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people were killed or injured. This year there have been 185 mass shootings in the U.S. as of May 1.