Concerned about gun proliferation in the United States, the Dominican Sisters of Peace have declared all their Motherhouses, educational institutions, retreat centers, environmental centers, and health-care centers to be "weapon-free zones." Signs are being posted to all building entrances that state, "Dominican Sisters of Peace are committed to the protection of all life. Weapons are not permitted in this building."
"This is more than a safety issue," states the congregation’s Promoter of Justice Sr. Judy Morris, OP. "It is a way to make our values more visible in all our buildings."
This latest effort is among others the Dominican Sisters of Peace have taken to stand firm against gun violence. Members of the community have been actively supporting H.R. 308, a bill that would ban large-capacity ammunition magazines. And, the congregation recently became an endorsing organization of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. Joining with the many other Christian denominations and other faiths represented in this group demonstrates the universal concern for protection of all life.
Sr. Judy explains that the Dominican Sisters of Peace recognize that making a difference in a violence-saturated culture requires personal and communal action in a variety of settings. "To express regret at high numbers of gun deaths is not enough," she said. "We must stand with others, consistently working for change."
Sr. Judy cited statistics which she said demonstrate the severity of the issue: "The United States led the world in gun-related deaths in 2008 with 9,484 individuals killed, while Canada recorded 200, Germany 194, and England and Wales 39. Only seven states require background checks for gun purchases, no matter where a gun is purchased. Thirty-three states have done nothing to close the gun show loophole. Lax gun laws greatly increase the numbers of homicides and suicides. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun in the home is more likely to be used in a homicide, suicide or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense. Every time a gun injures or kills in self-defense, it is used 11 times for completed and attempted suicides, seven times in criminal assaults and homicides, and four times in unintentional shooting deaths or injuries."
Dominican Sisters of Peace (www.oppeace.org) is a congregation of about 600 Dominican Sisters and 500 Dominican Associates who live and minister in 28 States and in Honduras, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru and Vietnam. The congregation is committed to greater involvement in the global community and simplicity of life, with diverse ministries that include education, health care, social work, spiritual direction and parish-based ministries, among others. Dominican Sisters of Peace work to create environments of peace by promoting non-violence, unity in diversity, reconciliation and justice through solidarity, especially for women and children.