CCCPGV was invited to speak at the ‘International Day of Peace’ observation
organized by the Chester County Peace Movement on Monday evening, Sept. 21st.
We joined the stage with Senator Andy Dinniman, Mayor Carolyn Comitta, and 3 other
speakers as well as a children’s choir from West Chester Friends, and the Concordia Choral
Arts adult choir. A nice gathering of around 150 people gathered together to promote
peace and brotherhood. Here is the speech from Tom Buglio, director of CCCPGV.
Guns Everywhere means No Peace at Home: International Day of Peace, September 21st, 2015
Andi, Annette, Mayor Comitta, Senator Dinniman, distinguished guests, and fellow Chester Countians, thank you for inviting me to speak today. I feel very blessed and privileged to live and work in West Chester, the County Seat of one of the most beautiful and wealthy counties in the nation. We truly have it all here, a good place to get a job, raise a family, enjoy the beautiful rolling hills and open space with hiking, biking, horse riding, canoeing the Brandywine, picking apples at our favorite orchards, buying fresh produce from local farmers on Saturday mornings right down the street. We have our fine university providing educational opportunities for young and old, as well as contributing to the arts with concerts, lectures, and Sat. football games. It is truly difficult to imagine a nicer place to be anywhere in the Country.
But even here in West Chester, in bucolic Chester County, the domestic peace can be shattered at any moment by someone doing something stupid and dangerous with a gun. This year, we have already had someone drive down High street, firing a few shots towards the High Street Parking Garage. We had a man shoot another man in the leg literally right outside the offices of Sen. Dinniman and Congressman Costello’s office, on Church Street late one Saturday. And just a few weeks back, a Henderson High School student who was selling marijuana, was lynched, robbed and shot to death, with his body discarded on Hillsdale Avenue in town, literally within sight of the Art Center. What can we surmise from these incidents? There is truly no place safe in America from the scourge of gun violence.
If parishioners in Charleston can be gunned down while worshiping, there is no safe place. If children can be massacred in their elementary school in Sandy Hook, there is no safe place. If people in Aurora Colorado can be shot to death while watching a movie, there is no safe place. If a Congresswoman can be shot in the head in a parking lot in Tucson Az. on a Saturday morning talking to her constituents, there is no safe place, and we don’t have Peace at Home.
The Chester County Peace Movement rightly targets keeping our military from getting involved in unnecessary wars overseas, and championing a peace agenda, and we admire them for that. Our politicians constantly talk about making us safe from terrorism, and since 9/11, have spent billions of dollars combating and foiling a number of plots right here in America, and for the most part, have kept Americans relatively safe from terrorism. Since 9/11, the amount of Americans killed by terrorists is in the hundreds, the number of Americans killed in our two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is in the 4000’s. In that same time, we have lost over 400,000 people to gun violence, and over 1 million have been shot! Come on, America, wake up to the ongoing tragedy that we face every day, and do something about it!
Why is it that in every area of public safety, from seat belts, to drunk driving, to chemicals in our food and water, to smoking cigarettes, to eating fatty foods, we see progress being made— all except in the area of gun violence? I will tell you why: it is because the gun rights lobby and the gun industry have intimidated most of our public officials into being silent on this vital issue—Mayor Comitta being a rare example of someone who does speak out for gun safety, and I thank her for that. It is disgraceful that the NRA spends millions of dollars lobbying against something as common sense as universal background checks, which simply means that for every gun sale, private and public, a background check should be done on the buyer, to make sure he does not have a criminal record, a mental illness, or a record of domestic abuse before he acquires a lethal weapon. What makes more sense than that? But in our country, 40% of legal gun sales are done without background checks, resulting in people having guns who should not, with the resulting pain and misery. But it is not just because we have spineless elected representatives who will not stand up to the gun lobby, it is also our fault. Whenever polls are done about the most important issues to Americans, gun violence never makes the top 10. We do not speak up about this issue often or loud enough.
Who does speak up? Someone like Andy Parker, the grief-stricken Dad of Allison Parker, the young reporter who was gunned down on Live TV. Someone like Richard Martinez, who lost his son Christopher to the Isla Vista shooter in California last summer. Will it take a critical mass of people to have had someone shot in their family in order to create a ground swell of Americans demanding Universal Background Checks, demanding all gun owners pass a gun safety course, demanding that gun owners lock their guns and separate the bullets in homes with children under age 18, demanding a ‘war on illegal gun trafficking’ with the necessary laws to back these plans? We can’t wait that long, people, we need to do something now, because 89 Americans are going to die today, and tomorrow, and the next day. We can’t truly have peace at home until we change the way in which we talk about and deal with guns in this country.