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NCC's Edgar offers prayers, calls for gun legislation 

New York City, April 16, 2007 "My pastor's heart breaks for the families of those who died today," said the Rev. Bob Edgar following today's fatal shooting at Virginia Tech University.  Edgar, the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA (NCC), also renewed the NCC's call for meaningful legislation to prevent such gun violence. 

"Faith leaders have spoken up continually about the epidemic of gun violence in our country," Edgar said in a statement (complete text below).  "Despite repeated calls from faith and community leaders to Congress and presidents nothing ever seems to get done to stem the tide." 

Edgar, himself a former Member of Congress, lamented that the issue of gun violence seems to get such little attention from those who have the power to do something about it. 

"How many more will have to die before we say enough is enough?  How many more senseless deaths will have to be counted before we enact meaningful firearms control in this country?  How many more of our pastors, rabbis and imams will have to preside over caskets of innocent victims of gun violence because a nation refused to stop the proliferation of these small weapons of mass destruction?," said Edgar. 

Edgar pointed to the NCC's 1967 policy calling for firearms control and a March 2000 interfaith campaign calling for an end to the epidemic of gun violence in the nation.    

"The escalation of gun violence compels us to call for an end to the manufacture and easy distribution of such instruments of destruction," Edgar said in 2000 and reiterated that statement today. 

Edgar invited people of faith and goodwill to send messages of support to a weblog www.compassion24x7.org set up by the Virginia Interfaith Center. 

The NCC is the ecumenical voice of America's Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, historic African American and traditional peace churches.  These 35 communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states.


NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, NCCnews@ncccusa.org


Statement of the Rev. Bob Edgar, NCC General Secretary,
on the campus massacre by gun violence
at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Va. 

The news of yet another senseless act of gun violence in our nation brings to mind the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:  "Only a suffering God makes sense." 

My pastor's heart breaks for the families of those who died today.  I pray for them and for those who witnessed the unspeakable violence that destroyed the peace of a spring day on a scenic campus at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. 

Faith leaders have spoken up continually about the epidemic of gun violence in our country.  Despite repeated calls from faith and community leaders to Congress and presidents nothing ever seems to get done to stem the tide.  

How many more will have to die before we say enough is enough?  How many more senseless deaths will have to be counted before we enact meaningful firearms control in this country?  How many more of our pastors, rabbis and imams will have to preside over caskets of innocent victims of gun violence because a nation refused to stop the proliferation of these small weapons of mass destruction? 

Unfortunately this is not a new issue for the National Council of Churches.  In September 1967, the General Board of the NCC called for federal legislation to regulate the sale of guns.  Our Board was realistic in its policy statement.

"We are fully aware that firearms control legislation does not take the place of constructive measures to eliminate the causes of crime and social dis-organization," says the 1967 statement in part.  "It does, however, represent a long overdue measure which might have prevented much tragic loss of life." 

Seven years and one month ago the NCC joined an "Interfaith Call to End Gun Violence."  It was yet another effort to get the attention of legislators to stop listening only to the gun lobby and claim their responsibility as leaders of a civil society to take the guns off our streets. 

I said then and I reiterate now:  "It is increasingly evident that guns, rather than providing the security people seek and rightfully deserve, only add further to our sense of unease and danger.  The escalation of gun violence compels us to call for an end to the manufacture and easy distribution of such instruments of destruction.  A faith that expresses compassion for all God's children is opposed to violence in all forms."


NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, NCCnews@ncccusa.org


 

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