On May 14th, a white teenage gunman opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo killing 10 Black people. On May 15th, a 68-year-old man killed one person and critically wounded four others inside a Southern California church. On May 18th, a shooting occurred on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University as people left the Riverdale High School graduation ceremonies leaving one person dead and another in critical condition. On May 22nd, a New York subway passenger on the way to brunch was fatally shot in an unprovoked attack. And on May 24th, at least 19 children and two teachers were murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Gun violence is a daily occurrence. Days after a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, the American Medical Association officially adopted a policy calling gun violence a “health crisis” and requiring a comprehensive public health response and solution. On an average day in the US, more than 35 people are murdered with a gun. Including suicides and accidental shootings, guns killed about 45,000 Americans last year. This number does not include the number injured. On average, over 100,000 people are shot in one year in the United States in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention. This epidemic encompasses homicides and suicides, rural and urban, adults and children. We are facing a crisis, and the church cannot stay silent about it.
In fact, the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church passed a resolution called, “Our Call to End Gun Violence.” It
states, “As followers of Jesus, called to live into the reality of God’s dream of shalom as described by Micah [Micah 4:1-4], we must address the epidemic of gun violence so, “that he may teach us his ways that we may walk in God’s path.” The Church recognizes gun violence as a serious social issue and therefore declares, “we call upon United Methodists to address gun violence in their local context.”
The prophet Micah casts a hopeful vision of the future where nations will “beat their swords into iron plows, and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Micah 4:3) Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Three things your church can do:
- Host a viewing of The Armor of Light or The Interrupters at your church, and use it to introduce the “Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities” Bible study. This study on Micah 4:1-4 offers an United Methodist theological reflection on the issue of gun violence. Conduct the study with your congregation or small group, and then have the small group or study leaders guide a church and community discussion.
- Connect with and support those who are directly impacted by gun violence. Support gun violence prevention programs, de-escalation groups, safety trainings, and support groups for survivors of gun violence.
- Advocate against laws that seek to increase the presence of guns in society, especially in public places such as schools, churches, airports, and elsewhere. Work with your congregation’s leadership to display signs that prohibit carrying guns onto church property.