The Common Good

Faith leaders call for tighter gun control

Date: January 15, 2013

Forty-seven faith leaders representing 80 million Americans joined Jan. 15 in a letter calling on members of Congress to take immediate action to prevent gun violence in the United States.

The letter -- made public a month after a tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., and on what would have been the 84th birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. -- called for mandatory background checks for gun buyers, a ban on high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines and making gun trafficking a federal crime.

Signatures on the letter include Carol Blythe, president of the Alliance of Baptists; Walter Parrish II, executive minister of American Baptist Churches of the South; Aidsand Wright-Riggins, executive director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies; LeDayne McLeese Polaski, program coordinator of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America; Carroll Baltimore, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention; and Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners.

Wallis was among faith leaders who spoke at a press conference at the United Methodist Building in Washington announcing the initiative. Wallis quoted NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre’s comment in the wake of the Newtown shootings: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”

“That statement is at the heart of the problem of gun violence in America today,” said Wallis, a member of First Baptist Church in Washington, “not just because it is factually flawed, which of course it is, but because it is morally mistaken, theologically dangerous and religiously repugnant.”