On Sunday, April 21, 2013, the Presbyterian Mission Agency hosted a forum on gun violence and free community-wide screening of Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence at the Louisville Science Center’s IMAX Theater. The screening was followed by a discussion among an invited panel of community leaders engaged with the issue of gun violence. Please contact Sara Sotelo (sara.sotelo@pcusa.org) for more information on scheduling a similar screening in your church or community.  

The following is an excerpt from a letter to the editor of the Courier-Journal by Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, announcing the screening.

April 17, 2013

Gun Violence: A Church Speaks Out

Louisville, like many cities across the nation, has been profoundly impacted by gun violence. As Christians, we cannot ignore the suffering that results from such violence. Our members and ministers deal with it every day, and we believe the church should be there, when people face heartbreak and need spiritual support. 

When tragedies like Newtown, Connecticut or Aurora, Colorado occur, too often the stories of those immediately impacted by the violence get lost in the rhetoric that flies between the groups that support gun control and gun rights advocates. Even more invisible are the individual stories of those impacted by gun violence on a day in-day out basis that never make it to headline news. 

Gun violence is not a random collection of tragedies; the sustained level of gun deaths—30,000 per year, with approximately 100,000 wounded—makes it a public health disaster. Recognizing this, the Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. recently produced Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence. This documentary, which is airing on NBC affiliated stations around the country and is now on DVD, examines the "ripple effect" one shooting has on a survivor, a family, a community and a society. It is a story told from the perspective of those who have been directly impacted and who are called daily to respond to this ongoing tragedy.  

Over and over throughout the documentary, the voices of those who have experienced the devastation of gun violence repeat, “we need to have a national conversation about gun violence.” The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is committed to listening to these voices and is using Trigger as a platform for engaging this critically important conversation . . . .

As our great city seeks to be known as the “Compassionate City,” we are called to join together to address gun violence. It is time to move beyond the polarizing rhetoric of the gun debate and engage in a national conversation about this disaster that takes too many lives and destroys communities.