Department of Justice
For Immediate Release
Interfaith Gun Safety Initiative Will Include Vigil, Gun Lock Distribution
ST. LOUIS – An interfaith vigil mourning the more than 100 children lost to gun violence in the last four years in the St. Louis area will be held Tuesday before gun locks and gun safety materials are distributed.
“This vigil is more relevant than ever in light of today's tragedy at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School,” said Reverend Rodrick Burton, senior pastor of the New Northside Missionary Baptist Church and vice president of the Ecumenical Leadership Council. “Tuesday's event will offer a space for all to be in community, mourn using the traditions of various faiths, and come together to create a safer world for our children.”
The program, which begins at 4:30 p.m. at Mt. Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, 1600 Belt Avenue, has been in the works for months. It will begin with the mourning rituals of various faith traditions and include brief comments from St. Louis City Mayor Tishaura Jones and Frederic Winston, Special Agent in Charge of the Kansas City office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Gun safety materials from Everytown for Gun Safety and the St. Louis Violence Prevention Coalition will also be available. Gun locks will also be available. The locks had been available via an existing program from Women’s Voices for Social Justice and the City of St. Louis in some libraries and fire stations. Faith organizations have also now agreed to offer gun locks to their members.
“We believe that houses of worship have a critical role to play in teaching our congregants about gun safety,” Pastor Burton said. “I don’t want to console another family who has senselessly lost a child, a child whose death could have been prevented if a gun had not been so easily accessible.
Maharat Rori Picker Neiss of the Jewish Community Relations Council said, “We know the power that is possible when communities come together. Our tradition teaches that to save a life is as if to save an entire world. If we can save one child’s live or prevent a single suicide, this initiative will be a success.”
The public is welcome. Please RSVP via this Google form.
The following organizations will be present or have participated: the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ Peace and Justice Commission; the Ashrei Foundation (of Central Reform Congregation); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Ecumenical Leadership Council of St. Louis; Employment Connections; Be SMART of Everytown for Gun Safety; Faces Not Forgotten; the Jewish Community Relations Council; Missouri Faith Voices; the St. Louis Violence Prevention Coalition; the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Women’s Voices Raise for Social Justice.
Gun locks were donated by the ATF, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office
For more information about the Interfaith Gun Safety Initiative, please contact Rev. Burton at (314) 246- 1207. For information about the Vigil, contact Elyse Picker, Jewish Community Relations Council Program Manager, at (314) 442-3874.