Dubuque sisters launch non-violence coalition - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque sisters launch non-violence coalition

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Monday marks one month since a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and killed 26 people.

In wake of that tragedy, and local violence, there's been an outcry over gun control.  That's pushing one eastern Iowa group to create what it calls a "culture of non-violence".

"Well we'd be naive to say we didn't have a violence problem," said Karla Braig with the Dubuque City Council.

That's why the St. Francis Peacemakers Circle wanted to hold a gathering Sunday.  For months, it's been working on efforts to encourage non-violence.  Most recently, the group launched a window cling campaign, encouraging home and business owners to become a "weapons free environment".  But following recent national tragedies, the Peacemakers felt a need to broaden their efforts.

"When we see innocent children being killed, it makes the issue urgent.  And the issue has been urgent, but now it's become so highly present in public awareness that it's just the moment for us as citizens to gather and talk about that and see how we can prevent that from ever happening again," said Sister Pat Farrell with St. Francis Peacemakers Circle.

At the center of their discussions--preventing gun violence.

"If our understanding of safety is we have to be armed in order to defend ourselves, that's an escalating dynamic that I think we need to have some community conversation about.  Is that really what makes us secure?  What does make us secure?" said Sister Farrell.

Representatives from church groups, schools, the city, and NAACP all offered input at Sunday's gathering.  They plan to keep meeting, under the name "Culture of Non-Violence Coalition," and continue talking about ways to stop violence.  Even the National Rifle Association's been included in its talks.

"Very affirming, saying there are things that need to be changed.  Nobody needs to be walking around with 50 bullets," said Mary Sawyer with St. Francis Peacemakers Circle.

The group now hopes to engage local police, legislators, and others in the community to participate.  The goal--- make real changes to prevent future tragedies.

"I do think it starts locally, but I think when the groundswell of people that are saying, 'This is enough,' gets loud enough, perhaps, somebody will hear," said Braig.

The Dubuque "Culture of Non-Violence Coalition" Will meet again February 3 at 3 p.m., location to be determined.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden is expected to deliver his final recommendations on gun control issues this week.

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