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GA 2010: Committee recommends resolution on gun violence to General Assembly

“It is one thing to say, ‘Let justice roll down like the living waters,’ but it is another to work out the irrigation system,” said Katie Day, quoting from William Sloane Coffin. Day, a parish associate and professor of church and society at Lutheran Theological Seminary, spoke in favor of General Assembly resolution 11-06, “Gun violence, gospel values: mobilizing in response to God’s Call.”[caption id="attachment_21955" align="alignright" width="288"]Committee 11 Social Justice Issues B: the Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World votes unanimously to recommend resolution on gun violence to the General Assembly. [/caption]

The General Assembly committee voted unanimously, with no abstentions, to recommend an amended version of 11-06 to the assembly when it meets later in the week.

“In the last 20 years while we’ve all been issuing these statements, nothing has changed, and each year 30,000 people have continued to be killed by gun violence,” stated Day in her words to the committee. But what is even more disturbing, she suggested, was that the church has tolerated and come to accept this. “We have been faithful, but we have not been effective,” said Day.

Brian Miller, executive director of Cease Fire in New Jersey and co-author of the faith-based campaign “Heeding God’s Call” (recommended as an example in the resolution) urged commissioners to adopt the resolution, which seeks to bring pressure on gun retailers to practice business that does not allow guns to go from legal sale to illegal persons.

The committee amended the report to remove language referring to “drinking age” as the legal age for purchasing guns (noting that it is not helpful to associate drinking with gun ownership), as well as adding wording that asserts that this resolution “does not preclude the legal use of personal firearms for hunting or sports-related purposes.”

Included in resolution 11-06 is the recommendation that the church take responsibility to build public awareness of gun violence and the epidemic of preventable gun-related deaths. It also calls upon the church, particularly in its congregations, to work with local law-enforcement agencies and community groups to identify gun shops that engage in retail practices designed to circumvent laws on gun sales and ownership. It further directs the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) to develop a corporate engagement strategy for working with corporations — in which the church may be invested — that produce or distribute weapons that do not comply with its policies on gun violence prevention. And, it recommends divestment actions appropriate to the integrity and effectiveness the church seeks.

In the words of one commissioner, “We have been asked to move mountains this week and I think this resolution helps us to at least move the rocks.”