It's on all of our minds. Another school shooting. 17 innocent people dead at the hands of a very troubled 19-year old and his AR-15. Our entire nation is heartbroken, and none of us can begin to imagine the grief of the victims' families, friends, and community. We hardly know what to say or what to do. We only know that we want the violence to stop. But we are at a loss.
Some of you might wonder where the United Methodist Church stands on this tough issue. The United Methodist Church supports legislation to curb gun violence, and endorses a ban of large-capacity ammunition magazines and weapons.
The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, top executive of the denomination's Board of Church and Society, said United Methodists should do more than pray about the Florida tragedy. "We must heed the words of the prophet Isaiah to turn swords in plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. We must lift the words from our United Methodist Church and turn them into action by advocating with lawmakers," she said.
The sign at the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C., where Church and Society's offices are, was changed after the shooting. The sign now reads: "How long O Lord until Congress acts to prevent gun violence."
You might then ask, what ARE some of the measures United Methodists are prayerfully asked to consider supporting? Below is a small portion of the 2016 adopted resolution calling for United Methodists to advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence. Some of those measures include:
* Universal background checks on all gun purchases
* Ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty
* Ensuring all guns are sold through licensed gun retailers
* Prohibiting all individuals convicted of violent crimes from purchasing a gun for a fixed time period
* Prohibiting all individuals under restraining order due to threat of violence from purchasing a gun
* Prohibiting persons with serious mental illness, who pose a danger to themselves and their communities, from purchasing a gun
* Ensuring greater access to services for those suffering from mental illness
* Establishing a minimum age of 21 years for a gun purchase or possession
* Banning large-capacity ammunition magazines and weapons designed to fire multiple rounds each time the trigger is pulled
* Promoting new technologies to aid law-enforcement agencies to trace crime guns and promote public safety.
May the Lord grant us Wisdom and grace, that we, as individuals and as a nation, will work relentlessly to find effective ways to stop this violence from ever happening again.