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The Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce created the Peace and Justice Committee of The Diocese of West Missouri and charged it with its’ initial focus area to address gun violence. Said Bishop Diane, “On June 21 the diocese held a Vigil again Gun Violence at the Cathedral. This was the start of our work together as a diocese to end gun violence in our diocese, our state, and in our nation.”

Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in Missouri. Every year in the United States, 350 children aged 17 and under gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else. Nearly 700 more die by suicide with a gun each year. We have the power to prevent tragedies like these from happening, using the Be SMART program to help parents and adults prevent child gun deaths and injuries.

Bishop Diane continued, “Tara Bennett, the head of our Peace and Justice Committee and a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense leader, is helping the Diocese promote gun safety as a means to tackle the plague of deaths of victims — especially children. The Be SMART program is the first major offering of the Peace and Justice Committee — it is a work we all must engage in — every church, every parishioner to ensure gun safety in our homes and in our communities. Please join us in this much-needed education for our communities.”

Be SMART graphic
Be SMART statistics

We can work together to protect our children. The Be SMART program encourages parents and caretakers to “Be SMART” and take these five simple steps to help prevent shootings by and of children: Secure all guns in your home and vehicles; Model responsible behavior around guns; Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes; Recognize the role of guns in suicide; Tell your peers to be SMART.

Diocesan volunteers are ready to give a 20-minute Be SMART presentation to your church, Adult Formation, Children’s Formation parents, or any other group. A communications toolkit is ready for your use, full of social media and bulletin graphics, articles for your newsletter, handouts, and directions for how to share the message of Be SMART with your congregation. Contact Tara Bennett at for more information or visit the Peace and Justice Committee page on the Diocesan website.

If you want to be informed about urgent issues, calls to action, legislative alerts, and ongoing gun violence prevention work with The Diocese of West Missouri, please complete our form.

Tara Bennett is chair of the Peace and Justice Committee. A member of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, she is also an active volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

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