Wednesday, August 14, 2013. A good day for nonviolence in the state of Arkansas. A good day to realize that many of our citizens understand the long view that sees that more guns in circulation, without adequate controls, without serious and sustained instruction, can never provide a lasting solution to violence.
A good day for nonviolence because it was on Wednesday that Representative Charlie Collins announced that he would be running for Lieutenant Governor, and on that same day, we learned that every college and university in the state had said no to Act 226, the legislation Collins sponsored to put guns on our campuses.
But that's not all. It was a good day for nonviolence because the Clarksville school district learned on Wednesday that The Arkansas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies had upheld Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's original decision to prohibit the school district from arming its faculty in K-12. Dr. David Hopkins, Superintendent of the Clarksville School District and the one who engineered the plan to bring guns into his schools, is not surprisingly a former instructor for the NRA. As Charlie Collins and Asa Hutchinson, both loyal disciples of the NRA, run for the two highest offices in Arkansas, we can expect this gun lobby, and others as well, to have a sizable presence in our state. But on Wednesday, August 14, 2013, the powerful gun lobbies and their destructive message of fear and paranoia felt the kind of resistance, the dedication to peaceful solutions to our problems, that have long characterized Arkansas schools at all levels and in every sphere.
And finally, we learned on Wednesday that on Thursday, August 15—the day that I am composing this celebratory piece—six African-American pastors will gather to address gun violence and to urge Senators Pryor and Boozman to change their votes against life-saving background checks.
As I said, Wednesday, August 14, 2013, a good day in Arkansas for nonviolence and reasonable solutions—solutions, I would add, that arose from the broadest spectrum of our citizenry. So a consensus emerged on that day—and we will work to insure its survival in the coming days when it will surely be tested—that arming our teachers is a hasty and dangerous response to an unclear and undefined threat and that we can as a community develop creative and compassionate solutions to violence that enoble us all. Many have shown us the path to do so—Gandhi and King, of course, spring to mind as well as the founders of our major religious traditions.
What emerged finally on Wednesday was the notion that the moment we forget our essentially human capacities, the moment we abandon our creativity and forsake our compassion, we make ourselves more vulnerable to violence, the very disease that all of us are working to cure.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013, then, a very good day in Arkansas, and one that we will remember as the future unfolds, and the gun lobbies escalate their campaigns in our state for the 2014 elections.