By Yvette Moore
The letter from the Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence coalition calls for legislative action that:
- Mandates criminal background checks for every person seeking to purchase a gun. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System would be used in every gun sale, including online, gun show and private sales, not just those by licensed dealerships.
- Bans civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines. The group called for an updating the 2004 federal ban on assault weapons that would take such weapons out of local communities.
- Makes gun trafficking a federal crime. This would empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers and their criminal networks.
“There is a balance between supporting the Second Amendment’s ‘right to bear arms’ and the nature of possession, sale and the proliferation of guns in our society,” said Julia Taylor, who signed the letter as United Methodist Women’s national executive for children, youth and family advocacy. “This coalition is working to raise awareness, promote legislation and let our representatives know that we support reasonable gun control to protect all the people in our communities. United Methodist Women has joined in this effort because we share those concerns, especially since women and children are frequently the victims of such violence.”
The coalition started with 24 members on Martin Luther King Day in 2011 to confront the nation’s gun violence. Today its more than 40 members are redoubling their joint effort in the wake of a string of mass shootings over the past few years in the United States.
“In light of the tragedy in Newtown [Conn.] — and in Aurora [Co.], Fort Hood [Texas], Virginia Tech, Columbine [Co.] and so many more — we know that no more time can be wasted,” the letter stated. “Gun violence is taking an unacceptable toll on our society in mass killings and in the constant day to day of senseless death. 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. We should not allow firepower to kill large numbers of people in seconds anywhere in our civil society. And we should ensure that law enforcement has the tools it needs to stop the virtually unrestrained trafficking of guns.”
United Methodist Women’s participation in the ecumenical effort is a continuation of its longtime work against gun violence. United Methodist Women endorsed and participated in Children’s Defense Fund’s Million Mom March Against Gun Violence on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2000, which was Mother’s Day. The Million Mom March effort merged with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in October 2001.
United Methodist Women’s national policymaking body was also a sponsor of what’s now Resolution 3426 “Gun Violence” initially adopted by the 1996 General Conference of The United Methodist Church. The measure, readopted and/or revised in 2000 and 2008 by the denomination’s General Conference, calls for support of federal legislation to regulate gun and ammunition imports, manufacturing, and sale and possession by the general public, including registration and licensing of purchasers and owners and appropriate background checks and waiting periods.
Yvette Moore is editor of response, the magazine of United Methodist Women.