As many of you know, in 2013 an interfaith group of religious leaders, including the Clerk of the Burlington Friends Meeting, asked the City of Burlington to oppose the basing of the F-35 fighter/bomber at Burlington International Airport, scheduled for 2020. Since that time, the noise of other military aircraft has forced the demolition of 200 owner-occupied homes around the runway and the new plane will place 3,000 additional homes in jeopardy due to noise and heightened crash risk. This at a time when rents are rising beyond the means of those with minimum wages and the homeless increasingly camp in the wooded areas of Chittenden County.
Why is opposition to the basing of the F-35 of significance to Quakers? Through FCNL we have long sought a reduction in military spending and a shift of funds to meet our great social needs in education, healthcare, infrastructure, job development, and environmental stewardship. At $1.4 trillion over 40 years, this war machine represents a considerable portion of the defense budget, $700 for the coming year, and will continue to do so in future years making social priorities impossible to achieve. Furthermore, our 2016 NEYM Minute on Climate Change affirmed that fossil fuel use threatened life as we know it on earth, https://neym.org/news/2016-yearly-meeting-climate-change. The F-35 is not only a huge user of fossil fuel, its deployment in the Middle East has been in defense of our unfettered access to petroleum.
We affirm that preparation for war before all other social goals isungodly. We affirm that peace is possible.
Charles Simpson, Co-clerk, Burlington Monthly Meeting
|Putney Friends Meeting —
GunSense VT’s founder and fiercest gun violence prevention warrior, Ann Braden, has announced that she will be stepping back from the organization to pursue two incredible opportunities: writing and running for public office. A prolific and talented author, Ann has had her middle grade novel accepted for publication by Sky Pony Press. It is due out in Fall, 2018. Additionally, Ann has been accepted into the Emerge Vermont program which trains Democratic women candidates, and is planning to run for office in her home district of Windham County.
“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with GunSense VT, and I’m humbled by the passion and energy of its supporters. From simply gathering names on a petition to bringing gun violence prevention legislation to the Governor’s desk, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds over the past five years,” states Ann. “I know that GunSense is well-positioned to continue the fight for common sense gun legislation in Vermont.”
The Board of GunSense VT and all of Vermont’s citizens owe Ann a debt of gratitude for opening the door to conversations and legislation that will ultimately improve public safety for all Vermonters.
As GunSense VT looks to the future, we will be growing our capacity and making improvements to our communications to continue the fight for universal background checks. Seasoned gun violence prevention activist and farmer Clai Lasher-Sommers is taking the helm as Acting Executive Director. Born in Vermont, and now living just over the border in New Hampshire, she is a survivor of gun violence, knows the issue inside and out on the personal level and national stage, and brings a fearless commitment to the cause. The GunSense VT Board will be holding a day-long retreat in January to identify priorities as we enter the 2018 legislative session.
Clai will be happy to hear from you @ firstname.lastname@example.org
“My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown. Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore. And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something.”
– Senator Chris Murphy, (D) Connecticut
We were outraged by the news out of Sutherland Springs, Texas. On Sunday a man armed with a Ruger AR-556 assault rifle ended 27 lives, and shattered countless others, at a place of worship. Once again, we are faced with massacres happening in places that are supposed to be safe. No one should feel apprehension while worshipping, going to school, going to the movies, shopping, or doing any of the other things that we do in our daily lives.
The NRA and the politicians whom they own will spout the same senseless sentiment: “It’s not the time to talk about guns.” We know differently.It is way past time to talk about guns. And for the 27 people killed in Texas and the 13,254* other people killed by guns this year, it is too late. Your voice has the power to effect change. Keep calling. Keep writing. Keep demanding action on gun safety legislation.
Take one of these actions today. Once you take one action it becomes easier to do two, or do three. Whatever you can do will make a difference.
1. Call Senators Sanders and Leahy and tell them that you support universal background checks, and you expect them to as well. Tell them to stand up with Chris Murphy and make this a bipartisan issue. Gun violence affects all Americans. It will take all of our representatives working together to make a change.
Senator Bernie Sanders: 800-339-9834
Senator Patrick Leahy: 800-642-3193
2. Call Governor Phil Scott and tell him Vermont’s lack of gun laws are shameful. Right now, there’s nothing preventing someone with a history of violence from buying a gun in Vermont without a background check from a private seller. Tell the Governor that Vermonters deserve better!
Governor Phil Scott: 802-828-3333
3. Please make a donation to GunSense VT, which is at the forefront of fighting for universal background checks in Vermont. Your donation today will help us continue our work for gun safe legislation in Vermont.
5. Make sure you know who your state legislators are and find out where they stand on gun violence prevention. Visit legislature.vermont.gov to find your legislators and see their voting records.
6. Remember that a significant majority of deaths by firearm are suicides. Visit the website of the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center for information and resources. Familiarize yourself with the risk factors, which can include depression, substance abuse, family violence, and feelings of isolation (especially among older Vermonters), and having firearms in the home.
7. Most importantly, look out for one another. Get to know your neighbors. Spend a few more minutes in conversation. Meet someone in person for coffee. We all need more human connection, especially now.
*The Gun Violence Archive: www.gunviolencearchive.org
Newtown Vigils: Help shine a light on gun violence in December
This December 14 marks the five-year anniversary of one of the most heartbreaking tragedies this nation has ever known: the murder of 20 young children and 6 educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Since that horrific day, we have also known the pain of other high-profile mass shootings. Charleston. San Bernardino. Orlando. Las Vegas. Texas. The list goes on.
This December, we invite you to recall all victims and survivors of gun violence: those who have died, those still living, and those who still live with the pain of loss. Those who have been threatened with guns and traumatized by violent acts, Those who still live with abuse and threats in homes where there are guns.
Vigils to remember victims of gun violence are being held statewide. Please consider organizing one in your community!
Organizing a vigil need not be stressful or time consuming. It can be as large or as small, as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. You can organize a group to stand silently with candles in front of your town hall, or you can organize speakers in your local library or house of worship. It’s up to you, and GunSense is here to help.
Please contact Elissa at email@example.com if you are holding a vigil or if you would like to organize one.
We have resources to share, and we want to help you publicize your event (and make sure that you are counted nationally). Connect with GunSense today!
All the Best,
Elissa Pine, GunSenseVT
|GunSenseVT · PO Box 2533, Brattleboro, VT 05303, United States|
One small section of the 30 foot inspirational mural created during the Putney Friends Meeting Retreat.
|“Our attention this morning is focused on Sandy Hook…”
“Our attention this morning is focused on Orlando…”
“Our attention this morning is focused on Las Vegas…”
Who among us doesn’t hold his or her breath when
turning on the TV or radio and hearing a story that leads with those words? Tragically, Monday morning was such a morning.
To people who lost loved ones in the Las Vegas massacre, to witnesses traumatized by the violence, to first responders who had to deal with unimaginable scenes, to the injured whose wounds may never fully heal, we are sending strength.
To the politicians who stand by, shooting after shooting, doing nothing to effect change, we are sending the message:
Even if our US Senators and Representatives are supportive of gun violence prevention measures, they still need to hear from you.
Please contact your elected officials today with the message:
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We are counting on you to address this public health crisis and keep guns out of the wrong hands.”
Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott has long held that Vermont’s extremely lax gun laws are adequate. We urge Vermont residents to contact Governor Scott with the message:
“Vermont is not an island. We are part of a nation that is experiencing an unprecedented public health crisis in the form of gun violence. We must do our part by passing universal background check legislation in Vermont now.”
Please also consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. A simple letter summarizing your reaction to this tragedy and encouraging legislative action can send a powerful message to lawmakers and fellow Vermonters.
It is easy at times like this to feel utterly defeated, but we owe it to all those who suffer to keep fighting for common sense gun legislation. GunSense Vermont continues to champion the much needed goal of background checks for every gun sold in our state.
Thank you for joining us in the fight.
-Your GunSense VT Leadership Team
p.s.–If you are looking for a way to directly support those impacted by the violence in Las Vegas, we suggest:
The National Compassion Fund (directly distributes donations from the public to victims of mass crime)
Elissa Pine, GunSenseVT
|American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
WASHINGTON, DC (September 5, 2017) Today, the Trump administration announced that they would rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that has provided temporary deportation relief to almost 800,000 people who came to the U.S. as children. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for almost 100 years – condemned the decision.
“The decision to rescind DACA is an inhumane attack on young people, their families, and our communities,” said Kristin Kumpf, AFSC’s Human Migration and Mobility Director. “This decision puts thousands of young people at risk of deportation, and a six-month delay does nothing to mitigate that. We support DACA because we strongly believe that no one should be deported.”
Since the DACA program was announced by executive order in 2012, AFSC has been involved in helping people sign up for the program, providing know-your-rights information, advocating for DACA expansion (which was effectively blocked by the Supreme Court in 2016), and mobilizing constituents to contact their congress people in support of the program.
“DACA has created opportunities for young immigrants to work, pursue educational opportunities, and support themselves and their families,” said Chia-Chia Wang, Organizing and Advocacy Director in AFSC’s Newark office. “In the absence of just and humane immigration policies, the program provided some necessary relief for thousands of people. These protections should be expanded, not rescinded.”
Many DACA recipients have also spoken out about how DACA has impacted them and why future programs or legislation need to be expanded. “As an undocumented student, I was able to benefit from DACA. This enabled me to continue my education, get a job with AFSC, and pursue a master’s degree,” said Jesús Palafox, Regional Administrative Associate in AFSC’s Chicago office. “DACA has been very helpful to me, but I am just part of a tiny minority of millions of people living in this country who need to be able to adjust their status. We need solutions that include everyone.”
Despite the setback, AFSC and immigrant rights groups across the country say this movement for immigrant rights, family reunification and social justice is not over. “We will continue our work – in the courts, in our communities, and in the streets – until everyone has access to legal status,” said Kumpf.
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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.