A sign tallying gun related deaths in the United States stands outside First United Church of Tampa.
The number, which changes daily, tracks lives lost since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Conn.
As of Feb. 5, it reached 148, 178.
Reports indicate more than 1,500 deaths just in 2017, according to gunviolencearchives.org.
On Feb. 12, the League of Women Voters of Florida will present the documentary film Newtown, followed by a panel discussion, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tampa, 11400 Morris Bridge Road.
The panel will consist of Thomas Gabor, author of Confronting Gun Violence in America, pediatric surgeon Dr. Marc Levy, Patti Brigham, chairman for the League of Women Voters Gun Safety Action Committee and Kathleen McGrory, health reporter for the Tampa Bay Times.
The group will address the effects of gun violence on public health.
Tickets are available for the free event at bit.ly/2iYSaWy.
Hillsborough County churches such as FUCT, located on Fowler Ave., and UUCT strive to spread awareness about the dangers of firearms. Representatives from both churches will attend the Newtown panel discussion.
In an email, Rev. Patricia Owen, minister at the UUCT, shared her thoughts on the role of churches and other religious organizations in reducing gun violence.
Simply put we want the world to be healed but we rarely can agree on the course of action to bring about the cure. Fixing this will be work we must be committed to passing on to generations who follow in our footsteps.
Fixing this requires a deepening awareness of the impact that economics and poverty play in creating despair and desperation in communities that we so often wish would just disappear.
Fixing this requires that we get real about race, systemic racism and the perpetuation of myths around black-on-black crime, the utter absurdity present in a system so broken it cannot place guilt on those sworn to uphold law who behave lawlessly.
Understanding this requires that we admit we have not yet created a culture that fully engages in conversations around mental health. Stigmatization remains. Shame remains. In a world that demands perfection there is little room, with horrendous consequences, for anything other than an unrealistic level of performance.
We must admit our own role in creating this world and refuse to perpetuate it.
For more information on activism efforts visit uutampa.org and ucctampa.org.
Contact Sarah Whitman at [email protected]