Why People of Faith Must Care About Gun Violence
Scripture has much to say about misplaced trust, but we seem to respond more readily to a culture of fear than a climate of trust. Our fear is reinforced by the actions we undertake in the name of security: stripping down to our “inner cloak” to enter an airport terminal, walking through metal detectors to attend a basketball game, and installing alarm systems on half the houses in our neighborhoods. We are conditioned to be afraid and are convinced a gun will keep us safe.
For people of faith, how we relate to guns should be viewed through the lens of our beliefs. Are they the tools of a hunter or target-shooting hobbyist or do they prime us for violence?
In Christianity, there is the seminal witness of the Prince of Peace. And for many who share the Abrahamic traditions there is the long-standing confession of the prophets reminding us not to put our trust in false idols. In too many cases, guns have become idols worshiped in the misguided pursuit of safety. But the statistics bear out that guns do not inherently keep us safe; in fact, they can and often do put us and those we love in danger.
Many gun owners and gun violence prevention advocates share similar safety goals. Communities of faith can provide spaces for these allies to work for reasonable and fair laws that go beyond political polarities. The NC Council of Churches and our allies call on people of faith to live into the hope-filled future promised to us rather than succumbing to the fear propagated around us.
“Come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18 RSV).
There is a way for us to own guns and be safe about it.
Gun Violence Prevention Resources
- Healing Communities in Crisis: Lifesaving Solutions to the Urban Gun Violence Epidemic
Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence
A Case Study in Hope: Lessons from Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence
Denominational Statements and Websites
Denominational Statements and Websites on Gun Violence
Adorers of the Blood of Christ (Catholic religious order)
Statement on Gun Violence
American Baptist Home Mission Societies
American Baptist Home Mission Societies Public Witness Statement on Gun Violence
Alliance of Baptists
A Statement Against Gun Violence
Baptist Peace Fellowship/Bautistas por la Paz
Faith Communities and Gun Violence Prevention
Dominican Sisters of Peace (Catholic religious order)
Sensible Gun Control Position Statement
Bishops United Against Gun Violence
An ad hoc group of nearly 60 Episcopal bishops who have come together to explore means of reducing the appalling levels of gun violence in our society, and to advocate for policies and legislation that save lives.
Convened by Bishops Mark Beckwith of the Diocese of Newark, Ian Douglas of the Diocese of Connecticut and Eugene Sutton of the Diocese of Maryland, and includes nearly 60 bishops from across the Episcopal Church.
Episcopalians Against Gun Violence (part of Bishops United, above)
Presiding Bishop Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Episcopal Church USA:
“Y’all got to go forth, go forth, go forth into this world and proclaim that love is the only way, go foth and proclaim that we will end the scourge of violence, we will make poverty history, and we will end racism, because we all got one God who created us, and we are all children of that one God, and we are brothers and sisters, one of another.” View it here.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1993: Social Policy Resolution on Community Violence
For a more recent statement, see ELCA, “Pastoral Letter on Violence from the Council of Bishops,” 2013
“In the Large Catechism Luther says, ‘We must not kill, either by hand, heart, or word, by signs or gestures, or by aiding and abetting.’ Violence begins in the human heart. Words can harm or heal. To focus only on guns is to miss the depth of our vocation. Yet, guns and access are keys to the challenges we face.”
Faiths United to Prevent Gun violence supports a common-sense agenda that will make it harder for people with criminal intentions to buy guns and easier for police and prosecutors to stop them. Our coalition of over 50 denominations and faith-based organizations is calling on Congress to pass legislation that will require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check; get military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets; and make gun trafficking a federal crime. faithsunited.org
National Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A.
Ending Gun Violence: A Resolution and Call to Action
Presbyterian Church, USA
Advocating Measures to Prevent Gun Violence
Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence is a documentary that frames gun violence as a “Disaster” and “Public Health” issue by taking an in depth look at how one shooting impacts individuals, families and communities, while also giving voice to the questions and insights that arise from these conversations. In the documentary, all those scarred by gun violence eventually arrived at the same question─ “Why…Why did this happen to us?” After looking at these in depth experiences of gun violence “Trigger” turns its attention to the bigger question─ “What can we do to prevent gun violence?” ? Length: 54 minutes.
Progressive National Baptist Convention
Call for an Assault Weapons Ban (12/15/12 Facebook post)
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Gun Violence Prevention
Unitarian Universalist Association
“Affirming Congregational Commitment to Gun Violence Prevention,” 2014
United Church of Christ, General Synod 20 Resolutions (1995)
Gun Violence Statement and Resources
United Methodist Church
Book of Resolutions: Gun Violence
Calls on churches to be “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) by convening workshops of clergy and mental health professionals in areas affected by gun violence, educating the wider community on gun safety, and supporting stricter gun control legislation in Congress.
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
“Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence: Protecting Our Communities While Respecting the Second Amendment,” February 12, 2013
Affirms bishops’ history of advocating more stringent gun controls and asserts that “Simply put, guns are too easily accessible” (p.1)
Stand Up Sabbath
Several years ago we woke to the horrifying news of the terrorist attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. On the first anniversary of this massacre, the NC Council of Churches, along with many of our gun prevention allies, organized a Stand Up Sabbath weekend during which we encouraged people of faith across North Carolina to talk together about the preponderance of gun violence in our country. We offered worship and education resources as well as discussion points about gun violence to stimulate thinking. We also coordinated well-timed awareness raising through social and traditional media. We repeated this focused attention on the 2nd anniversary of the Mother Emanuel attack.
Since that time, gun violence has continued to plague our communities and the headlines confront us weekly. While mass killings make the headlines, the sad truth is that guns kill more people in venues that seldom draw sustained attention: accidental deaths, planned suicides, crimes of passion, and calculated murders. We could impose some barriers that could reduce the hemorrhaging. Some people should not own guns, and some places should never allow guns. This is where the real work of sensible gun control laws can make a difference. We implore you to learn the statistics, understand the gun laws, and think faithfully about what God would have us do in order to strive for genuine safety and not a false sense of security. Love of neighbor calls for nothing less.
Jennifer E. Copeland, Ph.D.
North Carolina Council of Churches
Baptist Peace Fellowship, What Your Church Can Do about Gun Violence
Bishops United Against Gun Violence, Various Liturgical Resources from the Episcopal Church
Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, God Not Guns Sabbath Worship Guide
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, Gun Violence Guide for Faith Leaders
National Council of Churches, Worship and Prayer Resources in Response to the Newtown Shooting
NC Council of Churches, Lectionary on Gun Violence
Presbyterian Church USA, Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call
PICO Network, Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Resources
Rabbis Against Gun Violence, Stand Up Shabbat Resource Packet
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Community Resource Guide on Gun Violence Prevention
United Church of Christ, Overcoming Violence Bible Study Guide
Washington National Cathedral, Gun Violence Prevention Toolkit
Resources: Information on NC Gun Laws and Factsheets
Womenslaw.org, Know the Laws: North Carolina
This provides an overview of gun laws in North Carolina, particularly as they pertain to domestic abuse.
TheGuardian.org, Want to fix gun violence in America? Go local
MomsRising.org, Gun Safety in North Carolina: A Discussion Guide
North Carolinians Against Gun Violence
The website for this statewide gun violence prevention organization includes current information on gun violence in North Carolina.
Center for American Progress, North Carolina Domestic Violence and Guns
This fact sheet provides an overview of guns and domestic violence in North Carolina and how they intersect.
Gun Violence Across America
Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, North Carolina State Law Summary
This website provides an overview of North Carolina gun laws.
Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2015 Gun Law Scorecard
See how NC stacks up against other states.
NC Women United, Draft Women’s Agenda, Gun Safety Issue Paper
NC Violent Death Reporting System, Firearm Deaths in North Carolina, 2013
National Gun Violence Prevention Organizations
Americans for Responsible Solutions
On January 8, 2011, a mentally ill young man shot Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in the head, killed six of her constituents, and wounded 12 others. Since that tragedy in Tucson, America has seen too many more mass shootings – but no response from Congress. This inaction on gun violence was thrown into even starker contrast after the massacre of 20 children and six of their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. On the second anniversary of the horrific Tucson shooting, as America mourned the dead in Newtown, Gabby and her husband, retired Navy Captain and astronaut Mark Kelly, launched Americans for Responsible Solutions to encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership. As gun owners and strong supporters of the Second Amendment, Gabby and Mark know we must protect the rights of Americans to own guns for collection, recreation, and protection. But they also agree with the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, that commonsense protections from gun violence can prevent shootings from shattering communities like Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown.
Asking Saves Kids
The ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign promotes a simple idea with the potential to help keep kids safe. It encourages parents to ASK if there is an unlocked gun in the homes where their children play. For more than a decade, the ASK Campaign and its supporters have partnered with over 400 grassroots organizations to spread its message in neighborhoods nationwide. The ASK Campaign has successfully inspired 19 million households to ask if there are guns where their children play. The ASK Campaign is a collaboration between the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics who has promoted the ASK message to its 62,000 members across the country.
Bishops United Against Gun Violence
An ad hoc group of nearly 60 Episcopal bishops who have come together to explore means of reducing the appalling levels of gun violence in our society, and to advocate for policies and legislation that save lives. The group is convened by Bishops Mark Beckwith of the Diocese of Newark, Ian Douglas of the Diocese of Connecticut and Eugene Sutton of the Diocese of Maryland, and includes nearly 60 bishops from across the Episcopal Church.
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
The mission of the Brady organization is to create a safer America for all of us that will lead to a dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries. Brady has announced the bold goal to cut the number of U.S. gun deaths in half by 2025, based on an innovative and exciting strategy that centers on the idea of keeping guns out of the wrong hands through three impact-driven, broadly engaging campaigns: (1) a policy focus to “Finish the Job” so that life-saving Brady background checks are applied to all gun sales; (2) to “Stop ‘Bad Apple’ Gun Dealers” – the 5 percent of gun dealers that supply 90 percent of all crime guns; and (3) to lead a new national conversation and change social norms around the real dangers of guns in the home, to prevent the homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings that happen every day as a result.
Center for American Progress
The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action. Our aim is not just to change the conversation, but to change the country. Guns and crime are one of the focus areas.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) is a 501(c)(4) organization that was founded in 1974. We seek to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy.
Our organizational structure is unique among national gun violence prevention organizations. CSGV is composed of 47 national organizations working to reduce gun violence. Our coalition members include religious organizations, child welfare advocates, public health professionals, and social justice organizations. This diversity of member organizations allows us to reach a wide variety of grassroots constituencies who share our vision of non-violence.
Everytown for Gun Safety
Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives. But something is changing. More than 3 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and everyday Americans have come together to make their own communities safer. Together, we are fighting for the changes that we know will save lives. Everytown starts with you, and it starts in your town.
Faiths United Against Gun Violence
On Martin Luther King Day, January 17, 2011, 24 national faith groups announced the formation of “Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence,” a diverse coalition of denominations and faith-based organizations united by the call of our faiths to confront America’s gun violence epidemic and to rally support for policies that reduce death and injury from gunfire. We have grown to more than 50 groups representing tens of millions of Americans in faith communities across the nation – and our call to confront this epidemic has grown ever more urgent and imperative.
Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend
Following the great success of the 3rd annual National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend in December 2015 at more than 500 places of worship in 46 states and the District of Columbia, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence and the Washington National Cathedral are joining the Newtown Foundation and States United to Prevent Gun Violence in calling all Americans across the nation to keep raising our voices for change by pledging to participate in December 2016! Join places of worship across the nation, the Newtown Foundation and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of more than 50 national denominations and faith-based organizations, to remember those who have lost their lives to gunfire, pray for those whose lives have been forever changed because of the loss of a loved one, and to educate one another on proven strategies to reduce gun violence.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
In 2006, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns as a coalition of 15 mayors. Since then, they have built a bipartisan group of more than 1,000 current and former mayors from nearly every state to fight for common-sense gun laws.
Together, our mayors have been leaders in promoting and advocating for common-sense laws that reduce gun violence and save lives.
Moms Demand Action
Moms Demand Action was founded by stay-at-home mom Shannon Watts on December 15, 2012, in response to the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The organization quickly flourished into a leading force for gun violence prevention, with chapters in all 50 states and a powerful grassroots network of moms that has successfully effected change at the local, state and national level. In December 2013, Moms Demand Action partnered with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to unite a nationwide movement of millions of Americans working together to change the game and end the epidemic of gun violence that affects every community.
MomsRising.org is an on-the-ground and online grassroots organization of more than a million people who are working to achieve economic security for all moms, women, and families in the United States. MomsRising is working for paid family leave, earned sick days, affordable childcare, and for an end to the wage and hiring discrimination which penalizes so many mothers. MomsRising also advocates for gun safety, better childhood nutrition, health care for all, toxic-free environments, breastfeeding rights so that all children can have a healthy start, and a national budget that reflects the contributions of women and moms. Established in 2006, MomsRising and its members are organizing and speaking out to improve public policy and to change the national dialogue on issues that are critically important to America’s women and families.
Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly Legal Community Against Violence) is a national law center focused on providing comprehensive legal expertise in support of gun violence prevention and the promotion of smart gun laws that save lives. As a nonprofit organization founded by attorneys, we remain dedicated to preventing the loss of lives caused by gun violence through educating the public, free of charge, on America’s gun laws and the solutions that will reduce the epidemic of gun violence in this country.
The Law Center operates as part of Americans for Responsible Solutions Foundation, the 501(c)3 arm of Americans for Responsible Solutions. Your contribution is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Million Hoodies for Justice
Founded in 2012, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice is a racial justice membership organization confronting anti-black racism and systemic violence. Our mission is to build next generation human rights leaders to end mass criminalization and gun violence through grassroots organizing, advocacy, and education. We are building a racial justice movement committed to creating a democracy where all Black and Brown people have social, political, cultural, and economic freedom and the right to be safe.
Newtown Action Alliance
Newtown Action Alliance is an action-based grassroots organization founded by Newtown residents in the weeks after December 14, 2012. We are dedicated to reversing the escalating gun violence epidemic in this nation through the introduction of smarter, safer gun laws and broader cultural change. Our membership is open to anyone who wants to help make this nation a safer place for our families and children.
Rabbis Against Gun Violence
Rabbis Against Gun Violence is a national grassroots coalition of Jewish American leaders & faith activists mobilized to curb the gun violence epidemic plaguing our communities.
States United to Prevent Gun Violence
States United to Prevent Gun Violence is a grassroots network of 30 state affiliates working to make our communities and families safer. As part of our 50 State Solution to end gun violence, we support existing state-based gun violence prevention groups and bring new partners into the movement. Through cooperative efforts with our 30 state groups – and our combined 150,000 grassroots supporters – we are working to build healthy communities by reducing gun death and injury through stronger laws, community education and grassroots action.
The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus
The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus works with colleges and universities across the country to oppose legislative policies that would force loaded, concealed guns on campuses. Since 2008, The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus has helped stop campus carry legislation in 18 states, and are the only national organization of its kind tasked to protect higher educational institutions and the communities they serve.
Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center (VPC) works to stop gun death and injury through research, education, advocacy, and collaboration. Founded in 1988 by Executive Director Josh Sugarmann, a native of Newtown, Connecticut, the VPC informs the public about the impact of gun violence on their daily lives, exposes the profit-driven marketing and lobbying activities of the firearms industry and gun lobby, offers unique technical expertise to policymakers, organizations, and advocates on the federal, state, and local levels, and works for policy changes that save lives.
Opportunities for Action
Share your story Share how gun violence has impacted you. Your story will be added to our story bank and be delivered to lawmakers as part of a gun violence prevention storybook
Sign the national resolution against gun violence from Faiths United.
Encourage your local mayor to join Mayors Against Illegal Guns by signing this statement of principles
Reach out to local school superintendents, school board members, principals, and teachers encouraging them to share the importance of asking about safe gun storage with parents. The ASK campaign has a letter you can download and share.
Request a “No Guns” Sticker for your Place of Worship: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Host a movie screening and discussion:
The Armor of Light
A gripping portrait of courage, director Abigail E. Disney follows the journey of an Evangelical minister trying to find the moral strength to preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America. The Armor of Light tracks Reverend Rob Schenck, anti-abortion activist and fixture on the political far right, who breaks with orthodoxy by questioning whether being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life. Reverend Schenck is shocked and perplexed by the reactions of his long-time friends and colleagues who warn him away from this complex, politically explosive issue. Along the way, Rev. Schenck meets Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager who was murdered in Florida and whose story has cast a spotlight on “Stand Your Ground” laws. Also an Evangelical Christian, McBath’s personal testimony compels Rev. Schenck to reach out to pastors around the country to discuss the moral and ethical response to gun violence. Lucy is on a difficult journey of her own, trying to make sense of her devastating loss while using her grief to effect some kind of viable and effective political action—where so many before her have failed. The movie follows these allies through their trials of conscience, heartbreak and rejection, as they bravely attempt to make others consider America’s gun culture through a moral lens. The film is also a courageous look at our fractured political culture and an assertion that it is, indeed, possible for people to come together across deep party lines to find common ground.
Filmed over the course of nearly three years, the filmmakers use unique access and never before heard testimonies to tell a story of the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history on December 14, 2012. Newtown documents a traumatized community fractured by grief and driven toward a sense of purpose. Joining the ranks of a growing club to which no one wants to belong, a cast of characters interconnect to weave an intimate story of community resilience.
Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA
Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and The NRA tells the stories of how guns, and the billions made off of them, affect the lives of everyday Americans. It features personal stories from people across the country who have been affected by gun violence, including survivors and victims’ families. The film exposes how the powerful gun companies and the NRA are resisting responsible legislation for the sake of profit – and thereby putting people in danger. The film looks into gun tragedies that include unintentional shootings, domestic violence, suicides, mass shootings and trafficking – and what we can do to put an end to this profit-driven crisis. Through this film and campaign, Brave New Films will work with partners to fight for a country where public safety is more valued than profit
Under the Gun
The massacre at Sandy Hook was seen as a watershed moment in our national gun debate, but the body count at the hands of gun violence has only grown. Through the lens of victims’ families, as well as pro-gun advocates, we examine why our politicians have failed to act.
Beautiful Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) is in love with aspiring Rapper Demtrius “Chi-Raq” Dupree (Nick Cannon), but she is disturbed by the bloody war between his Spartan gang and the rival Trojans, led by Cyclops (Wesley Snipes). After Trojans set fire to her apartment while she’s in bed with Chi-Raq (pronounced Shy-RACK), Lysistrata moves in with her neighbor Miss Helen (Angela Bassett), a book-loving Peace activist who lost her daughter years before to a stray bullet. When Patti, an 11-year-old neighborhood girl, is accidentally killed in a drive-by shooting, her grieving mother Irene (Jennifer Hudson) pleads with anyone who witnessed the crime to come forward. But even after a reward is offered by a local church congregation led by fiery anti-gun-violence activist Father Mike Corridan (John Cusack), no one is willing to identify the killer. Shaken by Patti’s death and desperate to do something to stop the escalating bloodshed, Lysistrata persuades Spartan and Trojan women to swear off sex with their men until the fighting stops. To draw more attention to their cause, she leads the women in a bold occupation of a local armory, inspiring women across the city—and eventually the world—to join the boycott. As the ultimate battle of the sexes rages on, the city’s fate hangs in the balance in this searing satire of gun violence in America.
Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence
This documentary frames gun violence as a “Disaster” and “Public Health” issue by taking an in depth look at how one shooting impacts individuals, families and communities, while also giving voice to the questions and insights that arise from these conversations. In the documentary, all those scarred by gun violence eventually arrived at the same question─ “Why…Why did this happen to us?” After looking at these in depth experiences of gun violence “Trigger” turns its attention to the bigger question─ “What can we do to prevent gun violence?” ? Length: 54 minutes.