The National Council of Churches expresses its gratitude and appreciation for President Obama’s bold announcement of an executive order strengthening background checks and limiting access to loopholes for gun sales in the United States. We applaud him also for his order to provide new funding for access to mental health care, and for additional personnel to perform background checks. We urge Congress to allow these restrictions to remain in place. We hope that, with God’s help, these measures will save lives.
As President Obama noted, all of our fundamental rights and values as Americans must be balanced and protected. The “right to worship freely and safely,” as the President remarked, is as essential as the right to bear arms. Religious freedom “was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina. And that was denied Jews in Kansas City. And that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek. They had rights, too.”
While we are grateful for the measures that have been taken, we are aware that additional action is required. The “Gun Show Loophole” needs to be closed completely. Every gun sale should be preceded by a background check. Guns should not be sold to persons on terrorist no-fly lists.
“For decades, the National Council of Churches has called for a reduction in gun violence in our nation, but Congress has refused to take meaningful action. President Obama has been fearless and forthright in naming this crisis and now he is making sure something will be done. We are thankful for his leadership,” said NCC President and General Secretary Jim Winkler.
We urge Congress to codify President Obama’s executive order into law. We also urge the President and Congress to find ways to dramatically reduce the number of deaths from gun violence, an epidemic in this country, unprecedented in the civilized world.