Pastor recognizes challenges in fight against gun violence
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Following a week of services and dialog that culminated last Saturday, members of the Frontline Pastors Action Council plan to continue their advocacy for an end to gun violence in the city.
Rudy Ferguson, who heads of the Council, also concluded that as long as legal gun owners continue to be careless the effort to get guns out of the hands of young people could be an on-going struggle. He also put some of the blame on the National Rifle Association for its stance on gun ownership.
Ferguson expressed his concerns following the youth and college night service with the theme “guns down, praise up” last Wednesday night at Greater Love COGIC.
The Council decided a month ago to stage the week of awareness events, expressing concern over the rising number of gun-related crimes in the city. Just a day after the Wednesday night event, police reported another shooting incident in Tallahassee.
It has been widely reported that many of the guns used in committing crimes are stolen. That, Ferguson attributed to owners of licensed guns not keeping them in a secured place.
“I don’t think the gun itself is at fault,” said Ferguson, pastor at New Birth Tabernacle of Praise. “I do think that irresponsible owners of guns ought to take the blame.
“Guns that find their way in the Black community or in the hands of a youth is because of an irresponsible adult who didn’t lock the gun up or put it in a safe place.”
Ferguson went on to compare the NRA to tobacco companied that target young people in their advertising.
“To all of them it’s a profit,” Ferguson said. “When they make their guns they make them with violent intent. Since the day the gun was created it has been violent. The NRA doesn’t care.”
The ultimate solution, Ferguson said, is for churches to ramp up their efforts to get young people back into their congregations.
His sentiment was echoed by Cambridge McGill, a minister at Greater St. Marks Missionary Baptist Church.
“From what I’ve seen, I think we have backed away from pushing ourselves out to the world; showing the world the right thing to do, the right way to live and the right way to deal with violence around us,” McGill said. “We need to be an example.”
McGill, 21, who is an East Gadsden High School graduate, said he is proof that the church could help curb gun violence. As a teen ager, he said he “lived through and deal with the issues of life” before realizing his calling at age 14.
“With much prayer, supplication and fasting when troubles came upon me; not just in the streets but in the home, school and on the job, I had to lean on God.”
During his sermon, he encouraged the young people in the audience to vet the friends they choose.
“Some people will only connect with you when you’re in the wrong with them,” McGill said. “That’s why you’ve got to be careful of buzzards coming into your life.”
Erving Davis, a sophomore at Lincoln High School, said the week of promoting non-violence was reassuring.
“Killing is not OK,” Davis said. “Violence is never OK. Teenagers like us should put guns down because you might kill somebody’s child and get in trouble.”
How much the week of awareness about gun violent will impact violent crime in the city remains to be seen. Ferguson, however, was optimistic.
“I do believe that it’s resonating,” he said. “I believe every sermon and every panel discussion we had is going to touch every aspect of what we are going through. Even if it’s one step in the right direction, it’s still a change.”