Photo credit: David F. Choy
On Jan. 25, Andrew Foster Connors and about 25 leaders from BUILD (Andrew is a clergy co-chair of BUILD) took part in a series of actions in support of Do Not Stand Idly By, a campaign organized by Metro IAF that is pushing Mayors to take leadership on gun violence by pushing for gun manufacturer accountability and investment in smart gun technology. These actions took place while the US Conference of Mayors was meeting.
Metro IAF (Industrial Areas Foundation) is the parent organization of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD). It includes 22 organizations from 11 states up and down the east coast and to the Great Lakes region. Metro IAF is running campaigns, all of which have developed out of the communities that comprise these local institutions. Work includes immigration action and reform, criminal justice reform, jobs development, and Do Not Stand Idly By (DNSIB)—the gun safety work.
The strategy of DNSIB is to organize the purchasing power of police departments and the U.S. military to hold gun manufacturers more accountable for the more than 30,000 gun deaths every year. The military, together with police departments, make up 40 percent of all annual gun purchases.
Police departments (including Baltimore’s) have expressed strong interest in the new gun technology, which includes fingerprint identification to allow only the owner of the weapon to fire it. The gun companies have historically opposed this—just as cigarette companies opposed new technology in their markets— afraid safer options will lead to requirements and negatively impact bottom lines.
On Jan. 25, 16 different teams of leaders from all of Metro IAF’s organizations took place in coordinated actions including:
During the event, Andrew joined three other clergy (two pastors and one rabbi) from CONECT, BUILD’s sister organization in Connecticut. Both of Connecticut’s Senators were early adopters of our campaign. Toni Harp, the Mayor of New Haven, spoke at the action as she continues to bring new mayors to sign onto the effort. Recently Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, announced his support.
Andrew reported that, “The biggest win for me for the day was in developing deeper relationships with pastors from other organizations. This is key in my mind if we want to build national power on these efforts. I would encourage other key leaders at Brown to think about what level of involvement they would want to have in the future on this issue. There was a good mix of lay and clergy leadership on Jan. 25, but the clergy numbers were higher.”