BY CASEY WATTS

After three years of signing online petitions for gun control, witnessing the devastation of gun violence on three separate families, and losing her childhood babysitter to the Feb. 20, 2016, Kalamazoo shooting, a pastor decided to take action.

Courtesy photo of First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo.

Courtesy photo of First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo.

Julie Kline is a Pastor of Youth Ministries and Emerging Worship at First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo. She’s witnessed a sobbing mother who just lost her child to suicide and two families who lost their children to gun violence. She lost Mary Jo Nye, her childhood babysitter, and Barbara Hawthorne, an aunt whose family attends the church, during the rampage by a shooter in Kalamazoo earlier this year. She also has regular small group discussions within her ministry: “Over and over again, these conversations turn to gun violence,” Kline said.

She is angry. She wants solutions. She believes the polarizing split between pro-gun and anti-gun supporters only produces screaming and causes people to forget they are talking about human lives.

“Are we really okay with women and children dying of gun violence?” Kline asked.

To combat this, she is pairing up with Moms Demand Action and the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. The groups came together on April 12 for Lobby Day to try and get their voices heard in regards to the bills about gun control in Michigan. They want legislators to rethink the bills being pushed by the gun lobby, such as one that allows concealed guns in K-12 schools, college campuses, sports arenas, bars and more, according to Kline.

“This isn’t happening somewhere else,” she said in regard to gun violence. “This is happening here.”

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