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I asked if, by that reasoning, he was saying gun owners supported gun violence. He said that is not what he meant.

The dean said he represented “a faith community, standing in the center to find consensus.”

I asked who was represented this day on the side opposing gun control.

“This is not about the Second Amendment,” he answered. “This is about putting the spotlights on gun deaths.”

The priest said he was not speaking on behalf of the Episcopal Church but insisted, “Everything I’m saying consistent with the church’s position since 1976 on gun violence.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Hall spoke at Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s press conference in support of her new “assault-weapon” ban, which got only 40 votes in the Senate in April.

Asked about it now, he answered, “I don’t think it is going to pass because the NRA is against any regulations of guns.”

Raymonde Charles, a spokesman for the Children's Defense Fund, said the event at the church was co-sponsored by Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the Metropolitan Police Department, which provided the “illegal, confiscated guns.”

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s spokesman told me Saturday that the gun parts were not illegal because they were “inoperable.” However, that is legally irrelevant under city laws. Most of the pieces being used to bang into shovels appeared to be barrels, though one was attached to a receiver.

“Active guns can’t be on cathedral grounds,” Ms. Charles explained.

Actually, guns can’t be outside the home in the District of Columbia at all. And all firearms in the city must be registered.

But enforcing the multitude of gun laws on the books didn’t seem to be a high priority for this group. Neither does recognition of the fact that no gun-control law had ever led to a reduction in violence.

The cathedral is one of the most visited tourist sites in Washington because it is a place of unity of faiths. It should not be used for political grandstanding.

Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).