JPANet: Come Together to Stop Gun Violence

girl prayingGun violence can grab the national headlines, as it did recently in the aftermath of the tragic shooting rampage in Tucson, but for many communities, gun violence is such a routine fact of life that it sadly no longer draws much attention.  As people of faith, we are called to stand against violence in our communities.  Gun violence has already taken too great a toll in precious lives lost and permanently damaged, not only in Tucson but in communities around the country.

Background

The debate over gun violence and gun control can quickly become divisive.  But we cannot allow a difficult debate to deter us from addressing what is a major public health crisis in the United States.  On average each year, 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun.  The cost of gun violence, in medical costs, costs of the criminal justice system, security requirements and in quality of life reduced by the fear of gun violence is difficult to measure.

Semi-automatic weapons with high capacity ammunition magazines like the one used in the Tucson attack allow individuals to fire from 15 to 100 rounds of bullets before having to stop firing to reload.  The capability to fire more bullets in a short period of time increases the likelihood of death and injury during an attack.  A statement issued by the Violence Policy Institute notes that “high capacity ammunition magazines are the common thread running through most mass shootings.” 

In a 1995 resolution "Violence in Our Society and World,” the UCC General Synod declared “the acceptance of violence as a ‘norm’ in our society is a violation of the most fundamental of all our Christian beliefs,” and among many efforts to address violence call UCC members to work for legislation that would restrict the availability of instruments of violence.

Take Action

We can come together to take small, sensible steps toward preventing further tragedy.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy has introduced a bill that would limit the sale of high capacity ammunition magazines such as the one used in the Tucson shootings.  A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Frank Lautenberg.  The bill would reinstate a prohibition on ammunition magazines containing more that 10 bullets that was part of the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.  The ban is currently law in six states and the District of Columbia.

Of course, no single law can prevent a tragedy such as the shooting in Tucson or the killing of 32 students at Virginia Tech in 2007.   Measures like the one to prohibit the sale of high capacity ammunition magazines are reasonable, modest steps toward reducing the terrible toll that is taken by gun violence. Please take this opportunity to come together across our differences in this small step to prevent future tragedies.

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