CHHSM brings resolution to Synod on recognizing gun violence as public health emergency

The CHHSM Facebook Page went orange to recognize Gun Violence Awareness.

Recognizing the trauma caused by gun violence, the United Church of Christ’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries is sponsoring a Resolution of Witness at this summer’s General Synod in Baltimore, Md., calling for a focus on the U.S. gun violence crisis.

The resolution, which will be discussed and voted on by delegates meeting June 30-July 4 in Baltimore, Md., urges “the recognition of gun violence as a public health emergency and calls on the Congress of the United States to lift its gun-research restrictions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

“This is NOT an anti-gun resolution,” says the Rev. Danielle Bartz, CHHSM’s associate for program/leadership development. “It asks that the violence be dealt with as a public health emergency.”

“Some of our members deal with the effects of gun violence” almost daily, Bartz said. Such member ministries as Chicago-based “Advocate Trauma Center and UCAN work with children and families dealing with the effects of gun violence,” she added.

According to the resolution, the hope is that by lifting the research restrictions, the CDC can conduct its first comprehensive study on gun violence in more than 15 years. By studying gun violence and deaths, the CDC can then “make recommendations regarding gun safety, training and storage methods … [which] will then lead to a reduction in gun deaths, especially for the marginalized populations.”

Although the CDC estimates that gun violence is one of the top causes of death for people under 65, it has been unable to complete a study on reducing the effects of gun violence since 2001 because of Congressional actions blocking the research.

The resolution cites statistics predicting gun deaths reaching 15,000 annually as part of its rationale in urging the recognition of gun violence as a public health emergency.

As providers of care, CHHSM-member ministries also are advocates for positive change in public health and social policy. Calling for research and recognition of gun violence as a public health crisis is one avenue by which CHHSM works to increase gun violence awareness within the UCC. To that end, the CHHSM resolution also asks local UCC churches and individual members to “actively speak out against restrictive legislation that seeks to silence or stifle the scientific and medical community from providing sound methods to save and improve the lives of all of God’s people.”

The CHHSM resolution of witness requires a two-thirds vote to be adopted.

Read the resolution.

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