Written by Emily Mullins
The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, president and general minister of the United Church of Christ, is one of 47 faith leaders calling for increased gun violence prevention measures. Letters from the group were sent to President Obama, Vice President Biden and the U.S. Congress Wednesday on behalf of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition representing more than 40 denominations and 80 million members of the faith community across the United States.
"Gun violence in our country is an epidemic that needs to be stopped," said Black. "The UCC and dozens of other faith communities are supporting the efforts of our lawmakers to help put an end to the senseless deaths of innocent victims."
The action comes as President Obama announces his new gun control initiative, spurred by last month's mass shooting in a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. Main points of the President's plan call for an assault weapons ban, a ban on all firearm ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, tougher background checks on all gun sales, and tougher federal gun trafficking laws. Among other measures, President Obama is also calling for increased anti-bullying measures in schools, as well as expanded access to, and more training for, mental health counselors.
The Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence letter calls for similar measures including increased criminal background checks on all gun sales, a ban on high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines, and tougher federal gun trafficking laws.
"Gun violence is taking an unacceptable toll on our society, in mass killings and in the constant day-to-day of senseless death," the letter states. "While we continue to pray for the families and friends of those who died, we must also support our prayers with action. We should do everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of people who may harm themselves or others."
President Obama is urging lawmakers to act quickly, but many expect pushback from Republican members of Congress who largely do not favor an assault weapons ban. In addition to federal efforts, states are also beginning to take action. On Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York Safe Act, the toughest gun control legislation in the country.
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence was founded in 2011 to confront America's gun violence epidemic and to rally support for policies that reduce death and injury from gunfire. Since its founding, the coalition has grown from 24 to 40 faith groups representing religious communities across the nation including the United Church of Christ, United Methodists, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, Sojourners, the Islamic Society of North America, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and others.
For the full text of the letter, see Faiths United Against Gun Violence.