On Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, a crowd of almost 20 people gathered outside Christ the King Chapel at Loras to protest gun violence for the International Day of Peace.
The rally drew students, faculty, and people from the outside community as well. It was organized by the efforts of Children of Abraham, Dubuque Coalition for Nonviolence and Dubuque Area Congregations United.
The group marched to University of Dubuque where another group joined them. The rally participants were greeted by both friendly and unfriendly honks of passing cars.
“We do a lot of community service as a fraternity and doing stuff for nonviolence fits our criteria,” said Javonte Davis, a University of Dubuque student and member of Phi Beta Sigma.
“Young people in downtown Dubuque are saying they need to arm themselves because they’re afraid,” said Jim Rafferty , a member of St. Raphael’s social justice committee. Many in Dubuque fear that violent crime is on the rise.
Those attending the rally then went inside Blade Chapel on the UD campus to hear several speakers address gun violence. Alan Garfield, who opened the presentation, described what he sees as a ritualized response to mass shootings in America. It goes: initial horror, blame, numbed responses of those involved, and people saying that this incident will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
“Guns make it much easier to kill,” said the next speaker, Loras’ Dave Cochran, who directs the Archbishop Kucera Center. Though gun violence is complex in many ways, in others it is very simple in that gun violence is correlated to gun ownership rates, according to Cochran.
Matthew Zanger, the next speaker and violence prevention educator at the Riverview, actually moved to Dubuque after a violent incident in Washington DC. After dropping his wife off, his car was almost hijacked by an armed gunman with his toddler in the car.
The main speaker was Dr. Jeremy Brigham, a retired Unitarian minister and Executive Director of Iowans for Gun Safety. The largest policy goals of the group are universal background checks and banning assault weapons. In reference to the Second Amendment, the group stresses the “well-regulated militia” clause because there has been on overemphasis on the “right to keep and bear arms.” The conflict between gun rights and gun violence will continue to shape the political debate for years to come.
The next Children of Abraham event is a scripture study of the Quran at Wartburg Seminary on Oct. 15.