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Local church wants to move beyond praying to lessen gun violence

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—An Indianapolis church is delving into the divisive issue of guns in the wake of violence in Indianapolis and across the country.

Second Presbyterian Church hosted a forum on gun violence Wednesday night. The moderator of the event said they decided to host it after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. He said he and the senior pastor thought the time had come for their church to move beyond just praying about tragedies and hoping things change to becoming agents of change.

“We know that this is going to be a contentious issue for even folks in our congregation so we wanted to begin a process of conversation and education to see how we can move forward together,” John Franke, theologian in residence at Second Presbyterian Church, said.

Panelists included Dr. Stephen Dunlop, a psychiatrist and past president of Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence, Dr. Leah Gunning Francis, the vice president for academic affairs and the dean of the faculty at Christian Theological Seminary and Dr. Walter Pratt, a professor of law emeritus at the University of Notre Dame Law School who’s expertise in part is in the interpretation of the Constitution.

Their comments ranged from mass shootings and homicide rates to access to firearms and regulation.

“We have a limited number of speakers and not everything is represented which is why it’s really important that this is a beginning not an end for us. I also think that we framed it as a forum on gun violence in the hopes that that will bring people together, that everybody on all sides of the issue is hopefully against gun violence,” Franke said. “I do think that probably a challenge to gun proliferation is going to be a fundamental part of the question gun violence. On the other hand I think sometimes folks frame this as well anybody who’s in favor of lessening gun proliferation is against guns and we’re not taking that posture, so I think that we’re trying to find ground that will bring people together.”

Community members also got the chance to ask panelists questions and raise points of their own, which at times led to heated exchanges.

While it’s a hard conversation, Franke said they plan on having more programming in the future.

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