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Responding to Gun Violence as Followers of Christ, Part 2

Responding to Gun Violence as Followers of Christ, Part 2 June 2, 2015

In recent years, some of the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary have sought ways to respond to the epidemic of gun violence, and gathered resources for dealing with this in our communities. Their prayer was that these resources might help followers of the Prince of Peace sow the seeds of healing and shalom. This post is the second in a series that again presents their offering to the wider community of Christians. To see all the posts in this series, click here.

As part of our commitment to the stewardship of God’s world, the undersigned faculty of Fuller Seminary are moving to help fight what we view as a national epidemic of gun violence. We are concerned about maximizing safety in homes, as well as schools and other public places; therefore this page gathers some scientific information on the prevalence and risks of guns. But we are also concerned with the underlying theologies and psychologies that drive America’s gun culture, and so this page assembles reflections on those topics as well. We welcome those within and without the Christian churches to join us in deliberating on this pressing issue.

Christopher Hays, D. Wilson Moore Associate Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies
William Dyrness, Professor of Theology and Culture
Howard Loewen, Dean Emeritus and Senior Professor of Theology and Ethics 
Shelley Trebesch, Assistant Professor of Leadership and Organization Development
Mark Labberton, President and Lloyd John Ogilvie Professor of Preaching
Mark Lau Branson, Homer L. Goddard Professor of the Ministry of the Laity

It should also be noted that the late Glen Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, was among the signatories before his passing on April 26, 2014.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Richard Mouw has co-signed a letter from the College Presidents for Gun Safety

“We are college and university presidents. We are parents. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We urge both our President and Congress to take action on gun control now. As a group, we do not oppose gun ownership. But, in many of our states, legislation has been introduced or passed that would allow gun possession on college campuses. We oppose such laws. We fully understand that reasonable gun safety legislation will not prevent every future murder. Identification and treatment of the mental health issues that lie beneath so many of the mass murders to which we increasingly bear witness must also be addressed. As educators and parents, we come together to ask our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of our children by enacting rational gun safety measures.”

Faith United to Prevent Gun Violence

“a diverse coalition of more than 40 denominations and faith-based organizations united by the call of our faiths to confront America’s gun violence epidemic and to rally support for policies that reduce death and injury from gunfire.”

Participating in gun buy-backs like The Pasadena Area Gun Buy Back

“The Pasadena Gun Buy Back was on the day before Mother’s Day, Saturday, May 11th, 2013. The faith community took the lead to partner with the City of Pasadena, the Pasadena Police Department and the Flintridge Center to arrange this gun buyback event and a “Peace-Source” Fair, that will address gun safety, education, and provide an opportunity to share in the many non-violent initiatives that are going on in Pasadena.”

5.56mm Ammunition Rounds for SA80 Rifle, by UK Ministry of Defence. Flickr Commons.
5.56mm Ammunition Rounds for SA80 Rifle, by UK Ministry of Defence. Flickr Commons.

DATA AND RESOURCES ON GUN VIOLENCE AND RISKS

Arthur L. Kellermann et al., “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home,” New England Journal of Medicine, 329 (1993): 1084-1091 (October 7, 1993)

“Despite the widely held belief that guns are effective for protection, our results suggest that they actually pose a substantial threat to members of the household. People who keep guns in their homes appear to be at greater risk of homicide in the home than people who do not. Most of this risk is due to a substantially greater risk of homicide at the hands of a family member or intimate acquaintance. We did not find evidence of a protective effect of keeping a gun in the home, even in the small subgroup of cases that involved forced entry. Saltzman and colleagues recently found that assaults by family members or other intimate acquaintances with a gun are far more likely to end in death than those that involve knives or other weapons. A gun kept in the home is far more likely to be involved in the death of a member of the household than it is to be used to kill in self-defense. Cohort and interrupted time-series studies have demonstrated a strong link between the availability of guns and community rates of homicide. Our study confirms this association at the level of individual households”

David H. Newman, “At the E.R., Bearing Witness to Gun Violence,” New York Times, January 1, 2013
“[W]e doctors are at the front lines of the scourge of gun violence, and that to remain silent as this threat to public health continues unabated would be no different than for an oncologist or a cardiologist to stay mum on the dangers of smoking. The doctor’s balance between discretion and education is complex. But the news from Newtown, and my colleague’s request, convinced me that we have reached the threshold. I can no longer stay silent. … I have sworn an oath to heal and to protect humans. Guns, invented to maim and destroy, are my natural enemy.”

“Gun Violence: A Public Health Issue,” Harvard Magazine, Jan 9, 2013
Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Reuters sponsored a forum at the school on “Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis” on January 8. Reuters correspondent Scott Malone moderated the conversation, in which professor of health policy and management David Hemenway (HSPH), professor of child psychiatry Felton Earls (Harvard Medical School), Loeb University Professor Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law expert, and senior lecturer in public policy David King (Harvard Kennedy School) discussed both the status quo as a public-health issue, and interventions that could protect Americans, young and old, from more deaths by firearms.

” ‘The United States has a horrific gun problem,’ Hemenway asserted at the forum. ‘Compared to other developed countries, we have the most guns, the weakest gun laws, and so many more homicides.’ He noted that an American child had 13 times the likelihood of being murdered by a gun as a child in other developed countries. ‘God forgive us,’ he said, ‘if we do nothing and allow our children to die.'”

Sabrina Tavernise, “To Reduce Suicide Rates, New Focus Turns to Guns,” New York Times, Feb. 14, 2013
“The literature suggests that having a gun in your home to protect your family is like bringing a time bomb into your house,” said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, an epidemiologist who helped establish the C.D.C.’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Instead of protecting you, it’s more likely to blow up.”

“I will always believe in guns,” said Craig Reichert, whose son killed himself with his father’s gun.

Kids and Guns: ‘These are not Isolated Tragedies’

“My colleagues and I were doing a study on playground injuries, because they were doing some remodeling projects here, and we wanted to see if that would change the playground injury rate,” Sauaia said. “When we started coding the trauma data, which includes all types of childhood injuries that turn up at these trauma centers, and we noticed the morbid pattern of gun violence-related injuries for children … that shifted the focus of the study to document violence related to injuries involving gunshots.”

Fact-checking myths about guns


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