Addressing the Epidemic of Gun Violence

United Methodists have long held that mass shootings and routine gun violence is tragic yet preventable. Our hearts are broken and grieved for victims of gun violence, their families and communities. “These acts of senseless violence should not be an acceptable occurrence in any community” (Resolution #3426, Gun Violence). Whether it happens in the towns of Northeastern Nigeria, a suburb in the United States, the streets of Australia, or an office in France, gun violence has become an all-to-often, frightening phenomenon. We know that Christ calls his disciples to be peacemakers.

Therefore we applaud the steps laid out by President Obama to save lives while upholding the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution including:

  1. Requiring all who sell firearms online or a gun show to get a license or face criminal prosecution
  2. Making current background checks more efficient and expansive
  3. Smarter enforcement on current gun violence prevention laws, including protecting the victims of domestic violence
  4. Help those suffering from mental illness get the help they need.

Each year over 30,000 people are killed as a result of gun violence in the United States. Tens of thousands have their lives forever altered because of firearm injuries. Further, too many children are killed or injured by firearms every year, often by accident. Many of these instances are by guns that were sold legally but then stolen, misused, or discharged accidentally. The vast majority of Americans—including the vast majority of gun owners—believe we must take sensible steps to address these horrific tragedies.

Developing and promoting technology that would help prevent these tragedies is an urgent priority. The United States has done this in many other areas—from making cars safer to improving the tablets and phones we use every day.

Making the U.S. background check system more efficient, and ensuring that it has all appropriate records about prohibited purchasers, will help enhance public safety. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the background check system has prevented more than 2 million guns from getting into the wrong hands. We urge the U.S. Congress to ensure that every gun sale in the United States includes a background check. Only Congress can make this happen and we urge legislators to act.

We call all United Methodists to continue to take steps to end gun violence including:

  • To make visible public witness to the sin of gun violence and to the hope of community healing.
  • To advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence.

Editor's Note: You can learn more about President Obama's executive action on gun violence here

Letter to the Editor