Local faith leaders advocate for gun control, condemn racism following mass shootings

MILWAUKEE -- In response to the mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton, California and other areas in recent weeks, local faith leaders are urging community members to take action.

At the Cathedral of Saint John in Milwaukee, a public prayer service took place on Friday, August 9. The message from that prayer service, ironically, was all about how prayer alone is not enough when it comes to reacting and responding to mass shootings.

Vigil for mass shooting victims

Bishop Jeff Haines

Faith leaders in Milwaukee offered words of comfort for those grieving the recent mass shootings in Dayton, El Paso and Gilroy that took dozens of lives and injured dozens more.

"Yet as a people of faith, we also know words are not enough," said Bishop Jeff Haines.

Haines urged the community to turn their heartache into preventative action. He advocated for stricter gun laws to examining racist rhetoric directed toward immigrants at the southern border.

"In the recent mass shootings and in past shootings, there's been a consistent influence of the white supremacist movement," said Haines.

Vigil for mass shooting victims

Maria Padilla

Law enforcement in Texas say the El Paso shooting suspect confessed to targeting Mexicans. It's a potential hate crime the Padilla family fears could happen again.

"I feel scared," said Maria Padilla. "Especially to be Hispanic is something difficult."

Mexican immigrants themselves, the current Milwaukee residents are hopeful more events like the vigil will help to promote tolerance and ultimately inspire change.

Diana Padilla

"This isn't anyone's land," said Diana Padilla. "And the fact that they think they're better than people looking for opportunities... I just can't wrap my head around that."

"These are multi-symptom problems, and they will need multi-symptom solutions," said Pardeep Kalek. "We all need to be committed to that same action."

The bishop says statistics show there have been more than 250 mass shootings -- meaning at least four people shot in one instance -- so far this year in the U.S.

Vigil for mass shooting victims

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