As faith leaders in America, it is incumbent on us to address the escalating plague of gun violence in our nation. Since the beginning of 2023 alone, mass shootings from coast to coast have resulted in the devastating loss of hundreds of lives. Appallingly, it feels as if no one and nowhere is safe – not our schools, colleges and universities, medical facilities, grocery stores, movie theaters, social halls, financial institutions, shopping malls, homes, churches, or other houses of worship. While providing more resources for mental health issues would be meaningful, this is a long-term solution that doesn’t nullify the threat of easy access to guns, especially military-grade weapons, nor does it allow us to predict who will attempt a mass shooting. Calls for mental health treatment without providing resources for these efforts are also disingenuous. Experts who have studied the problem hold confidence in concrete and sensible solutions to significantly reduce the American gun epidemic. It is necessary and reasonable to act quickly and decisively because we do not have to live like this.
The United States has been caught in a vicious cycle of gun violence and mass shootings for decades, far surpassing every other nation in the world;
Gun violence and mass shootings are ravishing our communities;
Gun violence is the leading cause of premature death in the U.S., for children and teens and has killed more than 38,000 people and caused nearly 85,000 injuries each year, according to the American Public Health Association;
Our Christian faith teaches us that we should seek peace and pursue it;
Jesus said that he came that we might have an abundant life and the pervasiveness of gun violence is the antithesis of the life God intends for us;
The rampant violence in our communities requires a faith response that not only strives to end the violence, but also transforms communities and lifts up a standard of love, peace, and justice;
Thoughts and prayers are not enough and sending them to victims and their families without taking action to end gun violence perverts our responsibility as Christians, citizens, and neighbors. It is past time for urgent, decisive, and deliberate action to end this threat to our way of life and vision of becoming a beloved community.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA affirms that as a people of faith we will use all of the resources available to us to put an end to widespread gun violence and mass shootings in our communities;
We will work within our congregations and communities to create safe spaces for those inundated with violence and provide care for victims/survivors of gun violence and mass shootings;
We will be attentive and offer a public witness and care to those in our communities who are susceptible to being perpetrators of gun violence, showing them grace and mercy, and attempting to put them in contact with resources that may help them choose a different path;
We will make concerted efforts to connect with other groups, both religious and nonsectarian, to find solutions to end gun violence and mass shootings in our communities;
NCC, working collaboratively with our member communions, partners and allies, will intensify our efforts to advocate for common sense and comprehensive gun reform including, a ban on assault weapons and other weapons of war that have infiltrated our communities;
We will work across religious and political lines to advocate for gun reform that ensures the safety and security of all of our neighbors;
We will vociferously repudiate the narrative that that the Second Amendment allows for the gun lobby to go unchecked, that gun violence and mass shootings are a consequence of our freedom, and that we have to live in constant fear, abandoning all hopes of living peaceably one with another;
We will call on the President and Congress to quickly introduce and pass legislation that will end the massacres from weapons of war in our communities;
We will hold our public officials at the local, state and federal levels, accountable for the lackluster and negligent legislative responses that have occurred after these shootings;
We will prayerfully embrace opportunities to offer a faithful witness in the public square with other organizations, both religious and secular, to advocate for the end of this epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings.
Amen. May it be so.
Ending Gun Violence: A Resolution and Call to Action by the National Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A. 2010 https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/ncc-reaffirms-its-2010-resolution-on-gun-violence/ Reaffirmed 2018
Firearms Control Adopted by the General Board 1967 https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/common-witness-ncc/firearms-control/