God is Love: A Statement on Gun Violence in the United States

from the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness

This statement was given by Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson at a press conference held in Washington, DC, on January 15, 2013. Religious leaders and Faith Against Gun Violence came together to press for tighter gun regulations to stop gun violence in the United States.

First, let me give honor and praise to our Creator for the opportunity to speak with the press today regarding the eradication of gun violence in the United States. I am the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC. I represent nearly two million members of our denomination. I also represent today the National Council of Churches which includes 37 Christian denominations and their over 100,000 congregations and 45 million persons in the United States. Our collective presence of interfaith leaders gathered today is a witness to our belief in the need for faith leaders to bind ourselves together on both national and local levels. We are aware that pressure from the gun lobby and gun owners continues to mount around this issue. But we believe that political leaders in Washington can resolve this problem and achieve meaningful gun reform if only they have the will.

As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his birthday today, it is imperative for us to be reminded that he was a man who advocated for peace and justice. I am convinced that if he were here today, this issue would be the priority of his leadership. In the United States today, since 1997 we are witnessing gun deaths of more than thirty thousand persons per year. From the Revolutionary War in 1775 to the Persian Gulf War in 1991 which totaled 116 years there were 650,858 persons killed in combat. In the eighteen years from 1979 to 1997 we have experienced 651,697 deaths by guns. There were 839 more persons killed by guns during this 18 year period in the United States than in 116 years of foreign wars involving the United States.[i] No longer can faith communities stand idly by and commit to performing burials while bowing to lobbyists whose motivations are driven by a false standard of profit and power. We stand today on the premise that faith does have something to say about life and death. Therefore, it is imperative that we declare that our Creator affirms life abundantly while giving leadership to those of us who will challenge the false choice between guns and freedom.

Click here to read the full statement