On Ash Wednesday, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) issued a Lenten reflection on gun violence prevention. The reflection calls for inward reflection as well as external action to address gun violence in our society.
Policy changes alone will not end gun violence in the United States. But a review of 130 studies in 10 countries suggests that stricter gun policies lead to a reduction in gun deaths. Policy proposals in the U.S. context include expanded background checks, safe storage laws, mandatory reporting of lost or stolen weapons, and a ban on assault weapons. Proposals such as these would not infringe on the rights of hunters, while helping to reduce the likelihood of gun deaths.
In late February, the House passed two gun policy bills. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8) would require background checks for all firearm sales, including private, online and gun show sales. The second bill, H.R. 1112, would extend the amount of time allowed for carrying out background checks to 10 business days. A companion bill to H.R. 8 has been introduced in the Senate (S. 42).
The impact of U.S. guns also spreads beyond our borders, as the U.S. exports more guns than any other country. Recently, the Trump administration announced changes to make it easier to sell guns overseas. The changes would reduce oversight and accountability for the sale of small weapons and ammunition. Legislation has been introduced to block these changes (H.R. 1134, S. 459).
As MCC’s Lenten reflection says, “We may not all agree on how best to regulate guns, but we commit to remaining in conversation. Furthermore, we can agree that the killing of God’s children is wrong. In this Lenten season, we invite you to join us in prayer, education and action regarding hostilities in our hearts and lives.”
Here are some steps you can take during this season of Lent:
- Use a new resource from MCC, A Loaded Conversation: An invitation to talk about guns, to help facilitate conversation in your congregation on this challenging topic.
- Attend a Beating Guns event near you to learn how other Christians are responding to this issue.
- Ask your senators to support S. 42 and S. 459.
Together we can work toward a life-giving future for all of God’s children.