Statement on Assault Weapons Ban Renewal

September 9, 2004

Good morning, my name is Maureen Shea. I am Director of Government Relations for the Episcopal Church USA. Our 2.3 million member communion has a long history of support for public policies intended to reduce gun violence.

Ten years ago, when the Assault Weapons Ban was being considered, our Presiding Bishop wrote about his incredulity that in order to see a Member of Congress, he had to pass through metal detectors. But those same Members of Congress were not willing to vote for legislation to “ban these terrible weapons knowing that the good people who live in our nations’ inner cities do not have such metal detectors to protect themselves from gang violence, violence which is sometimes calculated, sometimes random and always senseless and terrifying.”

As I walked to this press conference, I went past police officers inspecting cars to protect Members of Congress and the US Capitol. If we go to the Capitol, the metal detectors are still there, and even the mail now goes through a security screen. In a world more dangerous than that of 1994, the White House and the Congress have significantly increased their own protections but are simply standing by and letting the assault weapons ban which protects all of us expire.

Let us be clear, these are military weapons used by criminals and terrorists. They do not protect – they destroy. In two days we will again remember the pain of September 11th. As we remember those lost on that day, we should also remember the many that have died as a result of gun violence and give thanks for those who have been protected by the wise and sensible ban on assault weapons. There is still time for the President to stand up to his commitment to support renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban and urge Congress to remember by maintaining one level of protection for all of the country which has worked effectively for 10 years.