Pray and ACT: Gun Violence is a Public Health Emergency!

The Rev. Danielle K. Bartz, CHHSM’s associate for leadership and advocacy, has issued an action alert on behalf of CHHSM, calling on UCC members to pray and act following the the shooting Nov. 5 at First Baptist Church in Sutherland, Texas. The alert asks church members to send a letter to their Congress person(s), asking them to declare gun violence as a public health emergency (see link at end of story). Here is the text of the alert.

“As followers of a truth-seeking, truth speaking Christ, we have a responsibility to search for informed, reasoned and rationale solutions to the problems that plague our nation and world. People of faith and goodwill cannot willingly avoid the best possible solutions when it comes to protecting ourselves and our neighbors from the horrendous rates of gun violence.”

These words, taken from the resolution passed by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ in the summer of 2017, remind us, that as followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to seek and speak truth.  And an undeniable truth is: people are dying.

The shooting yesterday at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, is the latest in a long line of tragic events of gun violence: Sandy Hook, Orlando, Las Vegas, and on and on.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on November 3, 2017, which shows two disturbing trends: one shows gun-related deaths have shown no signs of decreasing, in fact remaining steady for nearly two decades; the second trend is even more concerning, showing an increase in gun related deaths in 2016. Further, preliminary evidence shows the rate of gun deaths for the first quarter of 2017 is up from the same period in 2016. The problem of violence and death related to guns is not improving but instead worsening. We can no longer pretend this problem is not a determent to the health and well-being of our neighbors or ourselves. Gun violence is a PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY.

Despite money being allocated for research into gun violence and its effects on public health, in 1996 the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied Congress to prevent this money from being used. This prevents the CDC and the National Institute of Health from researching the effects of gun violence but also prevents them from providing sensible solutions to reduce deaths and injuries.

Whenever a national tragedy occurs, and they are happening more and more frequently, our first instinct is to pray for the victims, their families, and their communities. And this is a good instinct — our combined prayers do help heal broken spirits. But we must not stop with prayer, we must ACT. We must demand our legislators confront the strong political control the gun lobby has over our country. We must tell truth to power, just as we are taught by the stories of our faith.

The time is now to call Congress and ask they release the federal funds needed to find scientific solutions to this crisis. Ask your elected officials to declare gun violence as a public health emergency because people are dying.

We must continue to pray unceasingly. And we must ACT.

Follow this link to send a letter to your Congress person(s) asking them to declare gun violence as a public health emergency.

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