Where we’ve been …

 

In December, 2008, historic peace churches in the Philadelphia area – the Religious Society of Friends, Church of the Brethren, and the Mennonites– in collaboration with other local urban and suburban congregations, called together clergy and lay leaders from across the region to inspire hope, raise voices, and take action to prevent gun violence under the banner of Heeding God’s Call.  The faith-based organizers of Heeding God’s Call decided to conduct a grassroots, direct action approach to persuade and pressure local gun shops to adopt a 10-point voluntary code of conduct known as the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership Agreement. This Code of Conduct was developed as the basis of an agreement between Walmart and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition to prevent the sale of firearms to individuals who then resold the weapons on the streets of our communities.

 

Heeding God’s Call initially focused on Colosimo’s Gun Center, a notorious Philadelphia gun shop that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence had listed among the nation’s leading sources of sales of guns eventually recovered from crime.[1]  Local faith leaders met with the shop’s owner and attempted to convince him to adopt the Code of Conduct.  When this was unsuccessful, a series of public actions was conducted, including prayer vigils, large rallies, and civil disobedience that mobilized over 1,000 people from faith communities across the Philadelphia region.  In response to media coverage and public concern generated by the campaign, federal law enforcement authorities intensified their scrutiny of Colisimo’s practices.  In September, 2009, the retailer lost his license and the Gun Center was shuttered. 

 

Heeding God’s Call utilized the positive publicity generated by the successful campaign at Colosimo’s gun shop to build a strong faith-based movement in the Philadelphia region and to establish other chapters throughout the United States.  As of January 1, 2013, more than 70 churches, Quaker meetings, mosques, and synagogues from communities throughout the greater Philadelphia region were participating with the organization.  Active chapters of Heeding God’s Call have been formed in Baltimore, MD; Harrisburg, PA; and Washington, D.C.  Many other faith community representatives from throughout the United States have consulted with Heeding God’s Call via in-person meetings, telephone consultations, and e-mail correspondence. 

Philadelphia Weekly. Volk, (September 24, 2003). “Shoot the Messenger? The Brady Campaign puts a Philadelphia shop on its list of the 10 worst gun dealers in America.” Local faith leaders met with the shop’s owner and attempted to convince him to adopt the Code of Conduct.  When this was unsuccessful, a series of public actions was conducted, including prayer vigils, large rallies, and civil disobedience that mobilized over 1,000 people from faith communities across the Philadelphia region.  In response to media coverage and public concern generated by the campaign, federal law enforcement authorities intensified their scrutiny of Colisimo’s practices.  In September, 2009, the retailer lost his license and the Gun Center was shuttered. 

 Heeding God’s Call utilized the positive publicity generated by the successful campaign at Colosimo’s gun shop to build a strong faith-based movement in the Philadelphia region and to establish other chapters throughout the United States.  As of January 1, 2013, more than 70 churches, Quaker meetings, mosques, and synagogues from communities throughout the greater Philadelphia region were participating with the organization.  Active chapters of Heeding God’s Call have been formed in Baltimore, MD; Harrisburg, PA; and Washington, D.C.  Many other faith community representatives from throughout the United States have consulted with Heeding God’s Call via in-person meetings, telephone consultations, and e-mail correspondence.