The Brady Center notes this morning:
This morning at least 11 people lost their lives in two incidents of mass gun violence, one at a Connecticut workplace, another at an Indianapolis party....These two mass shootings are examples of the continual tragedy of gun violence in our country. Every day in the United States, 300 people are shot and 85 die from gun violence. We must do better.
As I noted recently after the U.S. Supreme Court expanded gun rights, gun violence is an issue deeply concerning for U.S. churches:
The National Council of Churches USA (NCC) and other religious organizations have been outspoken advocates of ending gun violence in America. Earlier this year NCC, a communion of "36 faith traditions encompassing 45 million Americans in 100,000 local congregations," adopted a statement on gun violence saying:
When thinking about the problem of violence, Christian faith is both “idealistic” and “realistic.” On the one hand, there is a stream within the Christian tradition that counsels non-violence in all circumstances. A seminal text is the Sermon on the Mount,found in Matthew's gospel, where Jesus instructs his followers to bear violence rather than inflict it.
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.... You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . (Matt. 5: 38-39, 43-44).
It is difficult to imagine that the One whose own Passion models the redemptive power of non-violence would look favorably on the violence of contemporary U.S. society. Present-day violence is made far worse than it otherwise would be by the prevalence of weapons on our streets. This stream of the Christian tradition insists that it is idolatry to trust in guns to make us secure, since that usually leads to mutual escalation while distracting us from the One whose love alone gives us security.
On the other hand, Christians also know, from both experience and scripture, that all humans are sinful, capable of acting with hostile aggression toward their neighbors. This "realistic" view of human nature also argues for restricting access to guns which, in the wrong hands or without adequate supervision, can make violence ever more deadly. Christians can certainly contend that it is necessary for public authorities to take up arms in order to protect citizens from violence; but to allow assault weapons in the hands of the general public can scarcely be justified on Christian grounds. The stark reality is that such weapons end up taking more lives than they defend, and the reckless sale or use of these weapons refutes the gospel’s prohibition against violence.
NCC's statement called for these specific action steps:
No community, church or individual believer can address a problem as complex and intractable as gun violence on its own. Therefore, together, the member communions of National Council of Churches U.S.A. RESOLVE to:
(1) call upon our local, state, and federal legislators to enact reforms that limit access to assault weapons and handguns, including closing the so-called federal “gun show loophole,” which allows for the purchase of firearms from private sellers without submitting to a background check, or providing documentation of the purchase.
(2) participate with movements such as “Heeding God’s Call” (https://www.heedinggodscall.org/) to insist that commercial sellers adopt and adhere to responsible sales practices.
(3) prayerfully, financially, and otherwise support the NCC staff in coordinating ecumenical efforts for gun violence reduction, including preparing educational materials about the magnitude of gun violence, developing avenues for dialogue among gun owners and gun control advocates within our congregations, and offering a faithful witness in cooperating with inter-faith and nonreligious anti-gun violence advocacy organizations.
Meanwhile, as the Brady Campaign notes, our fellow Americans continue to die:EVERY DAY (on average)
- Every day, 300 people in America, 67 of them children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents, and police intervention.
- Every day, 85 people die from gun violence, 35 of them murdered.
- Every day, 9 children and teens die from gun violence.
- Every day, 215 people are shot, but survive their gun injuries.
- Every day, 57 children and teens are shot, but survive their gun injuries.