Code Red

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

This is the third and final blog on common good voting as we prepare for our national election.

“In the U.S. we will advocate for common-sense gun control laws such as requiring universal background checks before purchasing arms, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, promoting strategies to prevent gun violence, and provide adequate financial resources to establish mental health programs for victims and predators and prevention for at-risk people.”

Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates       2013



They are called “The Mass Shooting Generation” and they demand change.  They were born into a world reshaped by the 1999 Columbine High School attack that left 13 people dead. They have lived through the Sandy Hook shooting of six-year-olds and their teachers. They stood in fear and shock at the Stoneman Douglas high school attack in Florida.

In this generation, six-year-olds are forced to practice active shooter drills. Parents buy bullet-proof backpacks for their children. According to the National Center for PTSD, 28 percent of people who have witnessed a mass shooting will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and about a third will develop acute stress disorder Our children are suffering mental exhaustion.

Since Stoneman Douglas, these young people have organized around the country, meeting with state and federal legislators, calling for action.  They do not want to hear, “You are in our thoughts and prayers” again.  They want action to make schools, churches, concerts and shopping malls safer.  They are tired of attending the funerals of their classmates and teachers.

Much time is spent organizing marches and demonstrations, giving tv and newspaper interviews, encouraging voter registration and educating the public on the need for legislation that addresses the causes of gun proliferation and violence.  As in the past, they often hear empty slogans and promises.

“Code Red” has become a familiar sound for students, informing them that an active shooter is in the building.  This is followed by calls to anxious parents, hoping this will not be the last communication.

According to the American Public Health Association, between 1999 and 2017 there were 69 high-fatality mass shootings, involving high capacity magazines, resulting in a 62% higher average death toll.  Bans on high capacity magazines appear to reduce the incidents of mass shootings and the numbers killed.

What needs to happen?  Congress needs to pass bills that eliminate the manufacture and sale of high capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons such as the AR – 15 and AK 47.  Police around the country support this ban.

These weapons are intended for military use, and the only reason to have one is to kill many people in a short period of time.  The 2017 Vegas concert shooting, which killed 59 people and injured more than 500, is proof of that.

Finally, Congress needs to pass a universal background check bill that requires anyone wanting to buy a weapon to pass a background check.  At present, only 60% of those wanting to buy a weapon go through a background check; those purchasing a gun at a gun show are not required to go through a background check. Only 13 states have a universal background check in place.  The Brady Bill, which provided for such background checks, was signed into law in 1994. allowed to expire in 2004 by the Republican-led Congress and President George W. Bush.

As common good voters in 2020, we are called to vote for senators and a president who will take protecting students and all citizens from mass shootings seriously, by enacting responsible, common-sense laws to stop the slaughter and to end  the national “code red.”

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Hope is an Action

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP
Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

What options do ordinary people have to express their opinions about national issues?  In a democracy like the United States, where free speech is a valued right, we don’t worry about being jailed or even killed for speaking out.  In fact, it is our duty to speak out when there are unjust systems or treatment of people.  As quoted in Occupy Spirituality:  A Radical Vision for a New Generation, Chris Hedges protesting the militarization of our country, gave a speech called, “Real Hope Is About Doing Something.”  He believes that hope is an action “which is always nonviolent, knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on us all… If we resist and carry out acts, no matter how small, of open defiance, hope will not be extinguished.” (Nook Book, p. 35)  This is why I choose to participate in protests and sit-ins.

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Posted in Just Reflecting, News

Calling All Rational People

Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP
Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP

 We often hear the definition of insanity – “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.”  As we deal with yet another massacre in the United States, that line keeps coming to me.  There are common sense, responsible solutions to the ongoing social disease of gun violence.  Fifty people lost their lives and fifty-three people were seriously injured by a man in Orlando with an AR-15 assault weapon.  This was not a hunting weapon or a target shooting weapon, but one used to kill many people in a matter of seconds.  This weapon had a high capacity magazine that enables the firing of many rounds in a short time.

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Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Call 911

Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP
Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP

If you notice that someone is having a heart attack, would you call 911? If you are walking down the street and notice a building on fire, would you call 911? I think it is safe to say most people would respond and make that call.

The United States has an ongoing crisis that shows no sign of going away. The epidemic of gun violence is the crisis that captured the NEW YORK TIMES and moved it to place an editorial on page 1 for the first time since 1920. Titled, “The Gun Epidemic,” the editorial calls Congress to task stating, “This is a moral outrage and national disgrace that people are legally purchasing weapons designed specifically to kill with brutal speed and efficiency.” The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS takes the republican congress to task for simply “offering their prayers,” instead noting that “God Isn’t Fixing This.” Congress must fix it.

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Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Children Killing Children Must End Now – Part II

Blog by Associate Rev. Tim Ahrens, OPA

Three years ago I wrote an article for the Dominican Sisters of Peace entitled, “Children Killing Children Must End Now.” It was written days after the shooting in Chardon, OH, in a high school cafeteria in which one child killed three children and wounded three more. He did it with his grandparents’ 22-caliber handgun, which he took from their home on a visit.

When I was asked a few weeks ago to write again, I said “yes.” Since then I have sat down three times to write and came up empty. What can I say? What can any of us say? Continue reading →

Posted in Just Reflecting