Category Archives: Gun Sense Chester County

Engaging Our Elected Officials

Daily Local News, 6/07/17

WEST CHESTER >> Gun Sense Chester County (formerly The Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence) is offering a “public invited open workshop” for anyone interested in learning more about how to most effectively engage and interact with elected officials and their offices and staff.

The event is called “Tips and Tactics for Engaging Elected Officials”. It’s designed to enhance community awareness on critical gun topics in an open discussion format. There is no admission charge and all are invited, gun owners and non-gun owners alike. Reservations are not required.

The event will be held at Grove United Methodist Church 490 Boot Road, West Chester PA 19380 at 7:15 p.m. Thursday June 15. Information will be available for interested volunteers.

“We are not all going to agree on every issue surrounding gun violence and effective prevention methods,” said Ann Cummings, Chairperson of Gun Sense Chester County. “If our communities are to find a productive way forward, we have to be able to listen to each other and find common ground.”…

read more at Daily Local News

Black Lives Matter

The Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence decries all forms of unnecessary gun violence incidents. Though the vast majority of police do a difficult job with integrity and respect, there are too many tragedies that involve the shooting of unarmed black men by the police. This has inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, and we had a prominent member of our West Chester community speak to this issue during the Sept. 25 Concert Across America to End Gun Violence.

Black Lives Matter

by Cassandra Jones: remarks at the Concert Across America to end Violence, West Chester concert, 9/25/16

So I could give you a bunch of statistics (such as 509 people shot so far this year by police) and point fingers in certain directions but I really want to talk about this from a different perspective.

Black Lives Matter: That’s hard to hear isn’t it? …It’s even harder to say because I agree that ALL lives matter Right? Do you believe that? Ok, if you believe that then it should be easy for you to accept the fact that Black lives are a part of the equation of ALL!

There has been no video footage released of any white, Hispanic, Asian or any other race but black that shows unarmed people being blatantly shot down. The visual images themselves are enough to cause nightmares for children and adults.

I have been a victim or survivor of gun violence myself. My mother was shot when I was just 6 years old. The impact left me in a state of paralysis. I do not remember anything that happened from the time my mother was taken away in the ambulance until the time she returned from the hospital. I lost my memory for that period of time! This is the effect of senseless gun violence.

We see ourselves as leaders of the free world and the most civilized country. We must stand up and fight for sensible gun laws in America.

The streets of America have become outlined with the blood of innocent people. In particular black men, but in one heartbreaking case an 8 year-old girl was killed while sleeping on her grandmother’s’ couch because she jumped when a police officer burst into the house with tear gas and couldn’t identify her!

I am outraged but more importantly hurt in ways that are almost irreparable! BUT, because I know and love good and decent police officers (including the great members of the WCPD) and good and decent people of other races, I STILL HAVE HOPE!

My hope is that the good people who really wish to change things in America are still willing to stand side by side with those who have been assaulted by the inexcusable and unnecessary killings that we have witnessed over and over and over again for the past 3 years.

History shows that nothing changes in America until black & white people—and all people—stand together to make things right! The moral compass of America has always been challenged by protest but the needle doesn’t move until we find common ground to stand on. That’s what pushes the needle toward justice! That’s why people today can stand and declare that “We are better/stronger together.” It’s because we’ve seen that model work for us. Like “Yes we can” or “Change has come to America”!

These are color-neutral mantras that have galvanized us because they foster that one human trait that I spoke of earlier… HOPE! Hope in each other: that’s what we are banking on! The hope I have in you, the hope that I hope you have in me. Hope that you will truly believe that ALL lives matter and Black Lives Matter because of that! Not more than that, but because of that!

I believe the founders of BLM were sending out an SOS request to draft people who believe in life, to help us black people say to everyone—in spite of systematic racism, marginalization, criminalization, chattel slavery, prison slavery, abject poverty and the attempted assassination of the human spirit— that we still want to live!

Side by side with you, my brothers and sisters, neighbors and coworkers. WE WANT TO LIVE!

Some people choose to ignore the current circumstances and hide behind All Lives Matter because they refuse to acknowledge that black people are being killed in our communities DAILY without consequence. Whether it’s by police or others, because there is no consequence, it appears that it doesn’t matter. We are just trying to get you to see that it really does matter.

We need you to help us, to help us prove that ALL lives do matter and Black lives are a part of the equation of ALL.

At night I have nightmares about my dark-skinned grandson being killed for the color of his skin and my daughters being harmed. Like most parents, I have brought them up to be good citizens and educated people. Now I need to feel that they are safe and not threatened by the nightmare of gunfire.

Fear vs. Hope: What Kind of a Country Do We Choose?

by Tom Buglio: remarks at International Day of Peace observation, West Chester 9/21/16

buglioThank you for inviting me to speak here today. I am the director of the Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, and I have chosen the theme of my talk to be “Hope vs. Fear: what kind of a world do we want for our children and families?”

We are truly blessed to live here in beautiful Chester County. These rolling hills are such a wonderful place to be, with good schools, lots of open space for biking, hiking, and walks in the woods. And we can experience the wonder of the 4 seasons, with Autumn being my favorite time, with the crisper air, changing colors of the leaves, and fall festivals galore. We all strive for a home where our children thrive, and enjoy everything life has to offer,… where we can live in a truly peaceful world.

However, this peace can be shattered by someone who should not be permitted to use a gun, somehow getting a hold of one and using it badly with tragic results. There are stories in the news of this happening around the country every day. Although it does not happen often here in Chester County, we are not immune from the tragedy of gun violence.

So I ask again, what kind of a world do we wish to live in?

Let me paint a picture of two different visions of our world. The world of Fear is populated by an armed society, with every able-bodied person owning and carrying a gun for self-protection, where all feel it is their personal responsibility to protect themselves and their loved ones from the bad people in the world.

The world of Fear has a vision of the “good guy with a gun” being a hero if anything goes wrong. The world of Fear believes that you can’t wait for the police to help you, you have to take the law and justice into your own hands, and that this is the best way to keep yourself safe.

The world of Fear is populated by the fear of the OTHER — those who don’t look like you, speak like you or have the same religion as you. The world of Fear does not trust immigrants, or people of different races or nationalities. The world of Fear does not trust our government or our police. The world of Fear is the world that is fostered by the NRA and other gun rights organizations, which paint a dystopian view of society, with not just the freedom to buy as many guns as you want, but the absolute need to do so. Continue reading

“Rep. Costello, do your job!”

By Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 6/29/16

“Rep. Costello, do your job!” was the first of several chants by the 25 people assembled under his office window on West Market St. on June 27.

Then, it was on to “Background checks now!” and “No guns for terrorists!”

And “What did Congress do after Sandy Hook?” Reply: “Nothing!” And the chants went on to a list of other mass shootings after which Congress likewise did nothing.

Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence leader Tom Buglio pointed out that 80-90% of Americans poll as wanting background checks and gun denials for individuals on the terrorist watch list—issues about which Rep. Ryan Costello (R PA-06) won’t meet with CCCPGV personally, though his office staff has.

According to Buglio, Costello is typical of today’s US House: he took $10,000 in NRA funding 2 years ago and avoids every chance to engage with gun violence prevention advocates. Buglio read from Costello’s statement after the Orlando shootings; Costello speaks repeatedly of “terrorism” and “hate” but does not stress that terrorists and haters should not have easy access to assault-style guns.

Activists have repeatedly asked Costello to cosponsor HR 1217, introduced by Peter King [R-NY-2] and cosponsored by almost 200, including 5 R’s and 2 D’s from PA, but Costello will not answer. (See HR 1217 info here.) Buglio challenged Costello: “Stop protecting the NRA and start protecting your constituents.”

The next speaker, John Gribbin, saw Orlando as an attack directed against the LGBT population, not as terrorism in general….

read more at Politics: A View from West Chester