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Issues & Victories

Public Safety

BUILD: Federal Judge Approves Consent Decree, Keeps Baltimore Police Accountable

A federal judge approved the Consent Decree fought for by BUILD leaders. BUILD was the first organization sought by the Department of Justice to interview for their investigation of the Baltimore Police Department. BUILD continued to meet all over the city and worked with the Mayor to approve the resulting Consent Decree before the current US President took office. 


When the Consent Decree moved to the federal court for consideration, BUILD co-chairs sent a letter to the judge emphasizing that it was crucial to approve the Consent Decree without delay. Organizer Gwen Brown and other BUILD leaders testified at the public hearing and will continue to work with DOJ thru process of choosing a monitor and making sure the immigrant population is included in consent decree. 


DNSIB January 15: End Campaign Against "Smart Guns"

Click HERE for a pdf


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  Thursday, January 15

CONTACT: Matt McDermott








NEWTOWN, CT -- Leaders of the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign – a national gun safety effort led by interfaith religious leaders – visited the headquarters of the main gun industry trade group this morning, asking the group to help end the campaign of intimidation aimed at keeping personalized guns, or “smart guns,” off the market.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, headquartered in Newtown, hosts the industry’s major trade show – the SHOT Show – next week in Las Vegas.

“The SHOT Show is the gun industry’s Christmas, Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan all rolled into one,” said Reverend Anthony Bennett, a Bridgeport Baptist pastor. “Thousands of gun enthusiasts will be gathered. There’s no better time and place to get the word out that the bullying has got to stop – that the market for ‘smart guns’ should be allowed to work.”

Personalized guns are guns in which built-in user-authentication technology prevents firing by unauthorized shooters. After many years of research and development, much of it subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, these guns are poised to enter the market. One such product, the Armatix iP1 was offered for sale briefly in 2014 by two gun dealers – one in California, one in Maryland – before a backlash from gun-rights activists forced the dealers to withdraw the product. The dealers reportedly received threats of boycotts as well as threats of violence from anonymous callers.

“We have never heard the NSSF utter a word of condemnation or even mild opposition to these efforts to shut down competition in their industry,” said Rabbi James Prosnit, a Reform rabbi in Fairfield, CT. “After the dealer in California was forced to withdraw the Armatix gun, the NSSF statement in the media was: ‘The market reacted.’ Threatening a gun dealer who wants to sell a safer gun isn’t a market reaction. It’s an anti-market reaction.”

Opponents of smart guns cite government mandates as their main concern. The state of New Jersey passed a unique law in 2002 forbidding the sale of non-personalized handguns beginning three years after the first personalized guns become available in the U.S. No other state has followed suit. Last month, however, New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General ruled that the Armatix iP1 is not a personalized gun under the meaning of the state’s mandate law, and that the sale of the iP1 would therefore have no consequences in regards to the law.

“New Jersey’s decision should remove any concern the NSSF has about the sale of this gun,” said Fr. David Blanchfield, a Catholic pastor from Norwalk, CT.

Do Not Stand Idly By (or DNSIB) has asked NSSF to:

·       Inform all SHOT Show visitors of the fact that sales of the Armatix iP1 will NOT trigger New Jersey’s mandate law, and encourage an end to efforts to harass dealers who decide to sell the gun. NSSF’s initial response: “We can assure you that our industry is well aware of the recent ruling.”

·       Encourage gun dealers across the U.S. to offer the iP1, and similar products, as options for consumers. NSSF has often said it is not opposed to personalized guns, just to government mandates. DNSIB is asking NSSF to act accordingly.

·       Meet with DNSIB to discuss alternative legislation to the New Jersey mandate. DNSIB believes that the state’s mandate is counterproductive, and has urged lawmakers to replace it with a set of policies to remove market barriers to personalized gun technology. DNSIB has twice asked NSSF to meet and discuss this apparent common ground. NSSF has declined to meet, citing a number of objections to personalized guns, and complaining about the name of the DNSIB campaign. (NSSF appears to be offended that the campaign has not recognized its many contributions to gun safety.)

Prior to visiting NSSF’s headquarters this morning, Rev. Bennett provided the following statement to media gathered at Edmund Town Hall on Main Street in Newtown:

Personalized gun technologies have the potential to do for guns what air bags and seat belts have done for cars. That is, they can save thousands of lives. They can save the lives of children who pick up their parents’ guns. They can save the lives of police officers whose guns are grabbed by criminals. They can reduce the number of people killed in accidental shootings. They can make a stolen gun into a useless gun.

But first we have to get these technologies to market. Let the market decide which of these technologies work best, and are best suited to different segments of gun buyers.

If the gun manufacturers don’t like Armatix or the other upstart smart-gun companies, let them produce a better, safer gun. Don’t block the competition – join the competition!

NSSF has no problem when gun companies compete with one another to bring greater and greater killing power to market. How about a competition based on greater and greater safety? How about a ‘race to the top’ in the gun industry?

Rev. Bennett is the pastor of Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the co-chairperson of CONECT (Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut), and a leader in the national Do Not Stand Idly By campaign.

How the NSSF Can Help Create a

Free and Open Market for “Smart Guns”

January 15, 2015

1.     Help end the consumer boycott

·       Notify SHOT Show visitors that the New Jersey Attorney General has ruled that sale of the Armatix iP1 will NOT trigger the state’s “smart gun” mandate

·       Encourage gun dealers across America to offer this and similar products as an option for consumers

2.     Push policies that remove market barriers

·       Support Do Not Stand Idly By approach to replace the New Jersey mandate law with policies to get personalized guns to market

·       Help us promote this approach in other states and at the federal level as an alternative to mandates

3.     Encourage manufacturers to respond to public-sector gun buyers

·       Ask member manufacturers to answer basic questions about personalized gun capabilities included in the Request for Information they received from 69 jurisdictions across the U.S.

·       Encourage a “race to the top” on gun safety among manufacturers




TO: SHOT Show visitors and exhibitors

FROM: Steve Sanetti, President

Lawrence Keane, Sr. VP and General Counsel




DATE: January 20, 2015

The consistent position of the National Shooting Sports Foundation has been that personalized gun technologies should be offered as a consumer choice in the American gun marketplace, but not mandated by government.

Over the last year, as the first manufacturer has sought to bring a product in this category to market, there have been successful efforts to deter dealers from offering this product to consumers. There has been a concern among some gun enthusiasts that the sale of this gun, the Armatix iP1, would activate the New Jersey law passed in 2002 forbidding the sale of non-personalized handguns in the state three years after the sale of the first personalized gun in the United States. We shared this concern. We did not, however, support or condone the actions of a few who sought to use intimidation and threats to restrain commerce in this area.

Last month the Acting Attorney General of the State of New Jersey made the determination that the iP1 does NOT constitute a “personalized gun” for purposes of the New Jersey “smart gun” mandate law, and that the sale of this gun would NOT activate the three-year “clock” under the state law.

We therefore encourage you to support the right of licensed firearms dealers to offer the iP1 for sale. We believe that this product, and others like it, should be allowed to succeed or fail in the market, based on the merits of the product.

GCC Takes Action on Gun Violence and Overcharging

On May 29, 2014, GCC gathered 1,000 people at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church to  to call for shutting down the felon factory in Cuyahoga County and stopping the flow of illegal guns into our communities.

Together, GCC announced that we would no longer accept drug abuse criminalization and gun violence. "Until now we have given our silent consent for a culture that sends our youths, our families, our neighbors to prison for non-violent, low-level drug abuse – and they are labeled as felons on their life resume” said Rabbi Josh Caruso, GCC Co-Chair. “Until now we have given silent consent to the proliferation of guns in our society. Until now we have given silent consent as guns are illegally trafficked from the suburbs to the city – and back again.” 

Bishop Douglas Miles of the Industrial Areas Foundation Board of Directors, who traveled from Baltimore for the Action, called on GCC "to continue to move away from the shore and into deep waters" where there is more risk but even greater reward.

At the action, County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty agreed to meet with GCC within 45 days. GCC will press Prosecutor McGinty to report specifically what he will do to end the practice of pursuing felony charges for persons arrested for low-level, non-violent drug abuse by sending these cases back to the appropriate city prosecutors, who can charge these offenses as misdemeanors. 

Metro IAF Trip to Lobby European Gunmakers a Success

In early December, a team of Metro IAF delegates-- Rev. David Brawley of EBC, Bishop Douglas Miles of BUILD, Rev. Patrick O'Connor of EQUAL (Queens), and Joe Morris and Rabbi Joel Mosbacher of NJ Together -- travelled to Europe, seeking to engage gun manufacturers and other potential allies in efforts to reduce gun violence in the U.S.  Their focus was on three manufacturers who supply the bulk of the police guns in the U.S. and many of the military guns:  Glock in Austria, SIG Sauer in Germany, and Beretta in Italy.

With the help of DICO in Germany, and allies in Italy, they met with key leaders in government, industry, religious life, unions and media.  They found a shared interest in meeting the demand for safer guns and better distribution practices -- demand they are working to create among mayors, police chiefs, etc. at home.  

Here is a roundup of press and blog coverage of the trip and related developments at home.  Google Translate gives you a rough sense of what the German and Italian articles say.



NY, NJ clergymen to lobby European gun makers to toughen rules for U.S. sales - NY Daily News

Religious Leaders Head To Europe To Lobby Gun Execs For Changes « CBS New York

Preventing Gun Violence a Year After Newtown | Rabbi Joshua Stanton

Newtown: A Year Later - Around Town - Rye, NY Patch

AP News: AP: NJ city to quiz gun vendors on safety issues

Jersey City mayor to other cities: Use police purchasing power to curb gun violence : page 1 -

Dec. 14, 2013 – Remembering Nelson Mandela

My Heart is in the West | Fresh Updates from RAC

NJJN: Clergy seek new allies in slowing gun toll



Gunmakers could make 'tremendous difference' | World | DW.DE | 13.12.2013

Winnenden: Kein amerikanisches Problem - Rems-Murr-Kreis - Stuttgarter Zeitung

Die Spur führt nach Deutschland - Wirtschaft - Sü

Gewalt an Schulen - Amerikaner zu Besuch in Winnenden


Italy (see bottom of page 6)

Le stragi degli Usa e gli affari di Beretta |Comune-info

Strage Newtown: la Beretta mette in sala d’attesa i delegati USA della Metro IAF / Si vis pacem... / Blog / Home - Unimondo

La Beretta si rifiuta di ricevere una delegazione interreligiosa dagli Stati Uniti

La Beretta rifiuta di ricevere una delegazione interreligiosa dagli Stati Uniti / Notizie / Home - Unimondo

Opal: Beretta non riceve delegazione interreligiosa amerciana | QuiBrescia

Un anno fa la strage di Newtown. Negli Usa le armi uccidono 30 mila persone - Redattore Sociale

Gardone Val Trompia:La Beretta rifiuta di ricevere una delegazione interreligiosa dagli Stati Uniti


Il silenzio delle fabbriche d'armi |Comune-info

Miles: "Beretta agisca per salvare vite anche negli Usa" | QuiBrescia

The Seismograph



US-Geistliche kämpfen in Europa gegen die Waffenlobby - Waffen - › Panorama

Weihnachtswunsch - Kolumne - Familie -




GCC supports historic Criminal Justice reform bill in Ohio

Greater Cleveland Congregations, alongside allies from across the state of Ohio, championed an innovative criminal justice reform bill that will reduce or eliminate many barriers to employment for ex-offenders returning to their home communities.  Governor John Kasich went to Greater Cleveland Congregations for a public bill signing ceremony and celebratory event in Cleveland on July 14, 2012.

Greater Cleveland Congregations gets commitments to reform the Cuyahoga County criminal justice system.

On Feb. 20, nearly 1000 people from 40 congregations across Cuyahoga County assembled to elicit commitments from all five candidates for County Prosector, including:

  1. Eliminating the practice of encouraging juviniles to waive their right to counsel.
  2. Reforming the County's data system to track and abolish the practice of overcharging.
  3. Reducing racial disparities in prosecution.
  4. Increasing diversion and treatment programs for you.

BUILD organizes to keep Baltimore neighborhoods safe.

In response to the tragic murder of 12-year old Sean Johnson, BUILD acted quickly to call on Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to allocate a permanent police foot patrol to keep the neighborhood safe. BUILD is working with Major Melvin Russell, Eastern District Police Commander, and the Mayor to improve public safety and provide opportunities for neighborhood youth.

South London Citizens launches City Safe initiative to reduce neighborhood violence.

  South London Citizens' pioneering work on safety has been widely recognised and is increasingly emulated by statutory bodies (City Hall, Metropolitan Police, Liverpool MET, local authority safety partnerships). The first retail City Safe zone, Lewisham Shopping Centre, scooped recent business awards due to its success at tackling crime, increasing positive youth role‐models, raising investment and building stronger business partnerships. This led to the endorsement of City Safe by Westfield who plan to adopt the scheme in their next retail development. Research shows that theft and violent incidents have fallen since City Safe has been implemented in Lewisham, where citizens, businesses and security staff are working together.


In the News

Five county prosecutor candidates pledge reform

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Cleveland Jewish News

Five Democratic candidates for Cuyahoga County prosecutor promised criminal justice reforms to a standing-room only crowd nearly 1,000 at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple at a February 20 forum organized by Greater Cleveland Congregations. No Republican entered the race, so the March 6 Democratic primary will determine the next prosecutor.