To the Editor:
I want to respond directly to the misleading and misinformed statements in your coverage of
Peace Not Guns.
First, Peace Not Guns is a legitimate non-profit organization. It is properly registered with the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong, and it is
shocking that you could fail to check such a fundamental fact.
Your coverage appears to confuse being a non-profit with being a federal tax-exempt non-profit.
Peace Not Guns is not a federally tax-exempt non-profit, known as a 501c3. I have said from the
start that Peace Not Guns has NEVER solicited donations or funds of any kind as a 501c3. Nor
at any time in the history of the organization has anyone come forward to say that they
contributed to Peace Not Guns with the understanding that they were contributing to a 501c3 tax-
exempt organization. That remains true to this day.
Peace Not Guns was permitted under Pennsylvania law to accept donations for its activities,
which consist primarily of organizing and sponsoring a community basketball game each
summer. We raise money for T-shirts and trophies for players, and we have also sponsored a
players’ “banquet” in the community after the game. One year I recall that we also sponsored
backpacks for school kids in the neighborhood. In years past, some of those funds were donated
directly by the vendors; other times, as has been reported, Peace Not Guns was the recipient of
donations from the campaigns of several elected officials. I contributed as well from time to
time. Again, Peace Not Guns is allowed to accept these funds under Pennsylvania law, though to
be clear, in almost every case we are talking about relatively small sums — hundreds of dollars,
not thousands of dollars. I can produce receipts for the trophies awarded, as well as receipts for
other items spent in connection with the annual game. The money raised was spent on the
children who participated. Period. Any suggestion that it went for any other purpose is wrong.
The point of the annual game, and the mission of Peace Not Guns, is to find ways to get people
in our community talking to one another and competing against one another, instead of resorting
to violence. I’ve said from the start that Peace Not Guns is a way for me to engage people –
especially young people – on the issue of gun violence. Its focus has never been as a tax-exempt
fundraising organization. And let me say again, because this is the important point: At no time
has Peace Not Guns ever solicited donations while holding itself out at a tax-exempt, 501c3
I have admitted that in 2008, when the organization’s website was first created, it mistakenly
identified Peace Not Guns as a 501c3. I take full responsibility for this mistake, though to be
honest I wasn’t even aware that the website contained this information. We have taken it down,
and I apologize for this mistake.
Finally, there is one other donation that has been the target of your reporting, so let me address
that as well. In 2011, Peace Not Guns helped secure a donation from Walmart Corporation to
sponsor a scholarship for a local student. The money was solicited in this case through an
organization called Barrett Educational Center, which in 2011 was a registered 501c3. It was run
through Barrett because, as I said, while Peace Not Guns is a non-profit, it is not a tax-exempt
non-profit. For the record, the Walmart-sponsored scholarship was awarded, and the student
received every dollar of it. Barrett did fine work in administering this very generous grant.
I hope this clears many of the inaccuracies that have been reported by your organization.