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1999 NCC News Archives

NCC Leader Issues Indictment Against Gun Lobby
in Wake of Fort Worth, Texas, Church Shootings

September 17, 1999, NEW YORK -- The Rev. Dr. Staccato Powell, Deputy General Secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC), has issued a stinging indictment against the gun lobby and its supporters. Dr. Powell declares, "Wednesday night's shooting at the Wedgewood Baptist Church, which left seven people dead, is another senseless atrocity perpetrated with a firearm."

Dr. Powell and the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, NCC General Secretary, participated Sept. 9 with the U.S. Conference of Mayors calling on Congress to enact further legislation for gun safety. This latest act of violence, according to Dr. Powell, shifts the focus from gun safety to gun accessibility. "Earlier in this century our national resolve was not to control smallpox, polio or tuberculosis, but to eradicate these diseases from the common fabric of our fragile society. We should treat guns as a plague that needs to be eradicated for our own health and challenge the gun lobby, which is allowing this plague to be spread."

Dr. Powell cited the words of the Rev. Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, noted ecumenist and former NCC President, who at the 1963 March on Washington indicted American Christians for "coming late" to a commitment to civil rights. "We can ill afford to 'come late' to speak against this malignancy claiming the lives of our children," Dr. Powell said.

Another faith leader, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, speaking on the same occasion as Dr. Blake, recalled Nazi Germany and said that the basic problem, then and now, was not evil but silence. The NCC's National Ministries Unit, directed by Dr. Powell, plans to convene representatives from NCC member communions to strategize about ways to refute the arguments of the gun lobby. "By taking our stand on the side of peace, goodwill and humanity, we assist in the fulfillment of one petition of the Lord's Prayer, 'deliver us from evil,'" he said.

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