Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Call to Reduce Gun Violence


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons (and daughters) of God.
- Matthew 5:9

The 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted the resolution, Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call, in exercise of its responsibility to help the whole church address matters of “social righteousness.” The resolution calls both the Church to support and the federal government to establish laws that will prevent and reduce gun violence. The PC(USA) recognizes the seriousness of gun violence in the United States, where more than 30,000 lives are lost each year due to firearms.  We call on all people to conscience to make earnest strides to challenge the pervasive culture of violence that permeates our social fabric.

During this Lenten Season we are joining other faith groups in prayerful engagement and direct action to reduce our culture of violence and to bring peace to our homes, streets, and public venues. Our role as Christians is to be peacemakers. Peace is more than the absence of conflict.  Peace requires our active participation in the work to serve the common good. Making peace often stirs controversy, because it requires engaging in faithful witness on behalf of Jesus Christ, despite the resulting discomfort. Peace exposes human frailty and sin in order to make repentance possible. Jesus affirms that his presence and teachings in the world will create division among those who are closest to him (Matthew 10:34). Therefore, the gospel is a double edged sword that evokes unrest while creating a platform for peaceful reconciliation.

As we journey together through this period of spiritual discipline and contemplation, while also experiencing gun-related grief and trauma in our communities and nation, let us remember that New Life awaits us on Easter morning. 

This petition, calling for common-sense federal measures to reduce gun violence, is one small piece of a larger strategy to address the culture of violence that pervades our nation.  We will deliver this petition to Congress during Eastertide.  Sign it now!

As you move through your Lenten discipline, make this petition – signing it, circulating it, inviting your friends and congregation-members to sign it – one of your personal commitments.  In addition, try these other action steps toward raising awareness and reducing violence and poverty in our nation.

  1. Pray for our President and the United States Congress as they struggle with the issue of gun violence.
  2. Encourage your Pastor(s) to preach sermons, teach bible studies, and become involved in the efforts to change our culture of violence and to eradicate gun violence in your local community.
  3. Host a screening of TRIGGER: The Ripple Effects of Gun Violence, the PC(USA) documentary on eradicating gun violence. Hold congregational and community discussions in your house of worship.
  4. Participate in a Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, March 15-17. 
  5. Write and/or call your Congresspersons and the President each week during Lent stating your support for federal legislation to reduce gun violence. (See the requested actions outlined in the petition). To find contact information for your Members, click here.
  6. Read the gun violence policy of the PC(USA) - Gun Violence and Gospel Values: Mobilizing In Response to God’s Call
  7. Register and make plans to attend Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day (CPJ) and Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) in Washington, DC, April 5-8, 2013 (attend both events in one weekend) to receive training in how to become an advocate for justice issues.

As members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and people of faith and conscience, we believe that God desires health and wholeness for all of God’s children – not cycles of despair, poverty, and violence.

We therefore believe that we have a responsibility to reduce such injustice in our midst, wherever we see it.  We therefore call upon the United States Senate and House of Representatives to approve federal legislation that will --

Reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 – banning all assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Assault weapons are weapons of war and have no place in the hands common citizens. Most mass shootings in this nation involve such weapons.

Require universal background checks when purchasing any firearm. Many states do not require background checks, making it simple to acquire a gun for persons with criminal records, persons who do not know how to handle a gun, or persons who suffer from mental illness. Guns only belong in the hands of those who know how to handle them with correct intention.

Make gun trafficking a federal crime. Currently, gun trafficking is prosecuted under a statute that prohibits selling guns without a federal license. This crime carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock.

Please forward this petition to friends, church members, organizations and/or other persons and institutions.

Post cards are available for large groups and/or congregations who desire to collect many signatures at once (such as church coffee hour).  Please contact our office at to request petition post cards.