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The Supreme Court's gun control decision is 'disappointing,'
but the NCC presses the need for an end to gun violence

Washington, June 30, 2010 -- The National Council of Churches finds the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision on gun ownership to be "disappointing," but stresses that the ruling does not negate the possibility of enacting laws to reduce gun violence.

The court ruled that citizens have a right to keep  handguns in their homes for self-protection but did not declare whether state and city laws against gun possession are constitutional under the Second Amendment. That decision was referred back to lower courts.

Even so, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago said the ruling made the city's handgun ban "unenforceable."

The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC General Secretary, said the ruling highlights the urgency of a National Council of Churches resolution passed in May calling on local, state and federal legislators "to enact reforms that limit access to assault weapons and handguns."

"Ending Gun Violence, A Resolution and Call to Action," stated that 100,000 Americans are shot or killed by guns each year, and that every day an average of 300 Americans are victims of gun violence.

Responsible gun ownership is consistent with constitutional rights, the resolution said, but "there are relatively few shootings by average citizens defending themselves. Rather, most fatal and non-fatal shootings result from abuse or misuse of guns."

"The member communions of the National Council of Churches do not for a moment suppose that the justices who voted in the majority are insensitive to this reality, or think that the Second Amendment protects the right of irresponsible or criminal gun owners to misuse their weapons," Kinnamon said. "That makes it even more urgent that the Supreme Court clarify how laws can be implemented and enforced to protect all citizens from the misuse of guns."

Kinnamon said most NCC member communions understand the Second Amendment as a move by the framers to enable 18th century citizens to keep arms available for military use if the country were attacked. "We would agree with Justice John Paul Stevens, who said in his dissent that the amendment has 'only a limited bearing on the question that confronts the homeowner in a crime-infested metropolis today,' and his observation that 'firearms have a fundamentally ambivalent relationship to liberty,'" Kinnamon said.

The NCC resolution calls upon member churches to "participate with movements such as 'Heeding God's Call' ( to insist that commercial (gun) sellers adopt and adhere to responsible sales practices," and to "prayerfully, financially, and otherwise support the NCC staff in coordinating ecumenical efforts for gun violence reduction."

The full text of the resolution is at

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 36 member faith groups from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),

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