I’m delighted to announce the upcoming Community-wide Gun Sense Peace Concert, which will be presented at St. James Lutheran Church, 109 York St. in Gettysburg, on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. The St. James Lutheran Church Adult Choir will sing, concert pianist Jocelyn Swigger will play piano, Will Lane will give a guitar and vocal performance, and Tom Jolin will play hammered dulcimer. This is a free concert followed by refreshments. All are invited to enjoy an afternoon of music, prayer, reflection, and fellowship on Nov. 10 at 3 pm.

Gun sense is increasingly mainstream. Groups like Gettysburg for Gun Sense join the majority in calling for universal background checks, legislation supported by over 90% of Americans, including 74% of NRA members. As an Adams County group, we also focus on supporting first responders, whose lives are saved when loopholes in background checks are closed. Pennsylvania proposed bills House Bill 159 and Senate Bill 88 close those loopholes by also requiring background checks for the private sale of long guns. In addition Pennsylvania badly needs an Extreme Risk law to save the lives of our firefighters, first responders, and veterans. The crisis shortage of Pennsylvania fire and EMS personnel was just reported in the Gettysburg Times on Oct. 5. First responders and firefighters have dangerous jobs. Yet tragically, we lose more of these essential folks to suicide than in the line of duty, as reported by firefighting and EMS websites www.firerescue1.com and www.ems1.com. Most of these suicides are gun suicides. In the U.S., gun suicide is responsible for two-thirds of all gun violence. Twenty-two thousand people are gun suicide victims annually, the vast majority of them looking a lot like the majority of Adams County men. 86% of U.S. gun suicides are men. 87% of gun suicides are white men. In Adams County, of our 15 suicides last year, 11 were gun suicides. Veterans are even more at risk than first responders. Those dying may be our brothers and husbands and heroes who risk their lives for us. Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) laws save people from suicide by allowing family members and law enforcement to intervene before warning signs escalate into tragedies. These laws, now in force in 17 states and in Washington D.C., allow petitions to the court for an order to temporarily remove guns. If a court finds that a person poses a serious risk of injuring themselves or others with a firearm, their firearms are held by law enforcement while the order is in effect. This provision is now in place in Florida, where it would have prevented the Parkland tragedy had it been in place in 2018. More frequently, these provisions save lives at risk of suicide.

Judy Young is a retired United Methodist pastor and a member of Gettysburg for Gun Sense.

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