Good morning. I am Rev. Michael Poage, retired minister with the United Church of Christ. I served Fairmount United Church of Christ, here in Wichita, just south of WSU, for almost 18 years. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today regarding your recent decision on concealed carry in our city.
Tomorrow we recognize the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man of peace, a leader in the ministry of non-violence, the victim of a growing culture of violence in the United States and a man killed by one bullet. Tomorrow he would have been 85 years old.
Two days ago, here in Wichita, a 70 year old granddad was playing a game with his .22 caliber handgun with his two grandsons present. He was showing off, the gun fired and a 10 year old boy was wounded in the head. Thank God, he is alive, but the culture of violence and the glorification of the so-called “right to bear arms” are growing at a faster, more irrational and disastrous pace. To me, the Kansas legislature and this Council’s recent decision to allow concealed carry in so many public places bows down to the false gods of violence and fear…in the name of security…and places the citizens of Wichita of all ages in grave danger.
Child endangerment is a crime in this city. It is a crime in Kansas. But, child endangerment is exactly what this State and Council is practicing if you allow your December decision on concealed carry to stand.
On the Wichita City website the mission of the City Council is: TO PROVIDE POLICY DIRECTION FOR THE CITY OF WICHITA IN DEVELOPING, IMPLEMENTING, AND MAINTAINING SERVICES TO THE CITIZENS OF WICHITA. I fail to see how your decision to allow firearms into virtually every public facility in the city can be of service to us, the citizens of this city. To me, your decision is immoral, potentially tragic, and, perhaps, could be seen as even illegal.
The U.S. Constitution’s 2nd amendment is often quoted as support for the “freedom to carry guns” folks. Here are the first three words of that amendment: “A WELL REGULATED….” I ask you: DOES YOUR DECEMBER DECISION REFLECT A “WELL REGULATED” firearm policy for “maintaining services to the citizens of Wichita?”
The closing words of the Rev. King’s 1963 letter from a Birmingham jail include the following: “LET US ALL HOPE THAT THE…DEEP FOG OF MISUNDERSTANDING WILL BE LIFTED FROM OUR FEAR DRENCHED COMMUNITIES, AND IN SOME NOT TOO DISTANT TOMORROW THE RADIANT STARS OF LOVE AND BROTHERHOOD WILL SHINE OVER OUR GREAT NATION WITH ALL THEIR SCINTILLATING BEAUTY.”
I ask you to please, in the name of reason, safety, justice and humanity, reconsider your concealed carry vote in December and ask the state of Kansas for a four-year exemption from the current State law.