Pray for victims of Aurora, Colo., shooting

The General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church urges all people to pray for the victims of the Friday shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., a suburb of Denver. Thus far, 12 people were killed and 50 more wounded, including a baby, at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” a highly anticipated Batman movie.

We grieve at the tragic loss of life and the needless injuries — especially when so many of the victims are so young.

The United Methodist Church considers it a priority public health issue to prevent firearm-related death and injury. In its resolution on “Gun Violence,” the denomination calls for social policies and personal lifestyles that bring an end to senseless gun violence, including a ban on all handguns.

Equal to our sadness at this tragic loss of life is our disappointment at Congress’ inability to place public safety above the interests of the National Rifle Assn. Our society can no longer afford to allow the power of the gun lobby in its efforts to ensure ownership without responsibility to keep Congress mute on this pressing public-safety issue.

Some of the most common-sense policies that Congress could enact quickly include:

  • instituting background checks on all gun sales, including at gun shows;
  • limiting bulk sales of guns intended to be illegally resold; and
  • reinstating the ban on sale of military assault weapons to civilians.
  • We believe these simple policies would help lessen the increasing violence associated with the current absence of effective gun regulations. In the face of mounting gun-related killings, it is imperative for Congress to take action.

    We all must pray for the victims of gun violence, and all of us — including Congress — must act to prevent such needless tragedy in the future.

    The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Prime responsibility of the board is to seek implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-making body. The board’s primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.

    — Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society

    — Bill Mefford, Director of Civil & Human Rights, General Board of Church & Society

    July 20, 2012