Although an overture on gun violence technically could have been placed on the consent calendar for the 2014 General Assembly, the leadership of the Social Justice Committee brought it to the plenary floor — hoping to give it more attention, and where the measure passed by a vote of 484- 87.
Committee Moderator Dan Ponder told the assembly that committee members believe “gun violence prevention is critically important and should be discussed.”
Ponder noted that the overture from Hudson River Presbytery is not intended to remove law abiding citizens’ rights, but to be a clear statement against gun violence in American society.
“Gun violence is a public health crisis that is not being adequately addressed,” said Wally Fletcher, a teaching elder from the Presbytery of Philadelphia. “Each year 30,000 people die from gun violence, and 3,000 of those are children.”
Young Adult Advisory Delegate Patrick Lane, from St. Andrew Presbytery, questioned whether this response took a strong enough stance against gun violence. “Reading these overtures makes it seem like we are going to do nothing but shouting.”
Tadd Hopp, a Young Adult Advisory Delegate from San Francisco, urged the assembly to approve the overture. Since the school shooting in late 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, “there have been 74 school shootings, and we as a nation have done nothing to address this,” Hopp said. “This is a chance for the PC(USA) to make a bold prophetic statement and (say) that this is a national epidemic – we are tired of it.”