“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live….”
Deuteronomy 30:19 (NRSVue)
Washington, D.C.—The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) abhors the rise of active shooter incidents plaguing American schools and neighborhoods. Once again, we are compelled to respond to another mass shooting, this time at a downtown Louisville bank, leaving six dead, including the shooter and eight others injured.
When this tragedy struck, it had only been just a couple of weeks since three children and three adults were gunned down at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. Now, more families of innocent gun violence victims are grappling with the sudden loss of their loved ones as well as the horrific manner in which they were murdered.
“There is a real and present danger that America is normalizing gun violence,” said Bishop Vashti McKenzie, NCC Interim President and General Secretary. “If something is not done soon, school shootings and gun violence in sacred, work, and recreational spaces will become just another day in the neighborhood.”
More than 11,500 persons have died because gun violence, according to the Gun Violence Archives. So far this year, there have been 147 mass shootings and 14 mass murders…totaling more than the number of days that have passed in 2023. The number of children and teens dying of gun violence is quickly inching toward 500, and it is only April!
“We don’t have to live like this. We reiterate our call for Congress to take urgent and decisive action to ban assault rifles and other weapons of war from our streets,” said NCC’s Governing Board Chair, Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton.
The NCC has been consistently vocal on the need to end gun violence. In its August 2019 statement, concerns were expressed that elected officials would not respond in any meaningful way to the proliferation of this violence: “…for they are collectively and shamefully within the captivity of the gun lobby. Our elected leaders are guilty of negligence and cowardice.”
Today, NCC renews its call for comprehensive, common sense gun reform that focuses on safety. We can strike a balance between firearm safety and Second Amendment rights. We can increase the well-being of children with child protection and child prevention safety. We can ban assault weapons, establish universal background checks, and keep guns out of the hands of high-risk people, while putting time between the purchase and the receiving of a weapon.
We must put an end to the gun violence pandemic by choosing people over profits. We choose the well-being of innocent people and not the profits of the National Rifle Association or the idolatry of the Second Amendment.
We choose life! America, we do not have to live like this.