“The Newtown incident got the attention of a large group of people who weren’t paying attention. And that’s a good thing,” Bryan Miller, executive director of Heeding God’s Call, says. “But our focus is on the daily violence that occurs in cities.”
In 2012, 331 people were murdered in Philadelphia, the vast majority by illegal handguns.
Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantee Heeding God’s Call brought attention to illegal gun sales at Colosimo’s Gun Center in 2010, resulting in the store’s closure by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. But the group’s goal is not to close gun shops but to get store owners to follow the rules.
“There is a very highly organized illegal distribution system that can be stopped with some basic advocacy and common-sense changes to the law,” Bryan says. “We make grassroots change happen by focusing on the critical juncture where guns leave gun shops and end up being illegally resold.”
Heeding God’s Call is now targeting Delia’s, a gun shop in Northeast Philadelphia. The store’s management has not signed a voluntary code of conduct aimed at stopping straw gun purchases. Bob Fles, coordinator of a Heeding God’s Call chapter in Northwest Philadelphia, says, “The postcard campaign is meant to stir the stew, be just enough of an annoyance, day after day, to remind the owner of the volume of people out there who care about his business practices.”
Heeding God’s Call includes people of all faiths from over 70 area congregations.“Historically, if you look at issues like civil rights, suffrage, and abolition, people of faith lead the way,” Bryan says.
With the support of Bread & Roses stakeholders, Heeding God’s Call is building a movement against gun violence. To learn more or get involved, visit www.heedinggodscall.org