Ellie Miller’s Reflection: Gun Violence Prevention

Orange circle MA coalition to Prevent Gun Violence with dove in center of circle

Eleven years have passed since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, which we thought would be a tipping point for stronger action to promote common sense gun laws. At that point in time, some members of FCB’s Social Justice Committee gathered to form our own Campaign Against Gun Violence which presented informational sessions, calls for advocacy, and recognition of the many victims of gun violence.

Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence

When the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence was formed in January of 2013, First Church Boston was one of its early members. This Coalition now brings over 120 member organizations together to collaborate and advocate for stronger gun violence prevention in Massachusetts. Its main work focuses on these areas: 
  • Education
  • Legislative advocacy
  • Community organizing
 
In 2023 there were 636 mass shootings in the U.S., and a total of 41,000 gun deaths in our country. Unacceptable! In Massachusetts, there is a large disparity in the communities that are affected by gun violence—it is disproportionally neighborhoods of color that see the most shootings.
 
Some progress was made this year. One example of the effective lobbying done by the Coalition was the MA House passage of an omnibus gun violence reform bill on October 18th– H.4135, An Act modernizing firearm laws. This bill addresses a wide range of important issues including ghost gun regulation, crime gun data collection and analysis, and equitable funding for community-based violence prevention. Next, the bill must be passed by the Senate.
A group of people standing together with orange t shirts
Members of the Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence at the State House, including First Church Boston’s Ellie Miller on the far right.

Beside lobbying for legislation, the MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence also recognizes those who are working to promote peace and healing in the community. This year’s honoree for “the Most Valued Player” was Dr. Thea James, the Vice President of Mission, Associate Chief Medical Officer, and Co-Executive Director of the Health Equity Accelerator at Boston Medical Center. A tireless champion for survivors of violence, she has dedicated her career to ensuring that trauma victims have access to equitable and trauma-informed systems of care at the local, national and international level. She has made an incredible contribution to the Boston community and beyond.

A woman at a podium speaking with a man and woman standing in the background
Dr. Thea James accepting the award with Ruth Zakarin, Executive Director of the Coalition and Donald Osgood, Clerk of the Coalition Board of Directors.

First Church Boston will continue to work with the Coalition in 2024 to stem the tide of gun violence in whatever way we can. To receive news of the Coalition’s activities and to stay in touch with FCB’s Campaign Against Gun Violence, send a request to elliemiller224@gmail.com.