Speaking Up About the Prevention of Gun Violence

Speaking Up About the Prevention of Gun Violence

October 05, 2022

At the 2022 Iowa Annual Conference Session, Gun Violence Resolution #704 was passed. The resolution asks Iowa United Methodists to "oppose and vote to defeat the 'Iowa Right to Keep and Bear Arms.” amendment.'" Then in August, the Council of Bishops unanimously affirmed a statement addressing gun violence. To stop the gun violence epidemic in the U.S. and around the globe, bishops are urging United Methodists to raise their prayers to God and contact their elected leaders. This is the second in a series to speak to the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church and specifically gun violence. Read previous articles in the series here.

Our Lord is the Prince of Peace

Submitted by: Rev. Josh Steward, Dallas Center UMC

A recent survey by Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-partisan group advocating against gun violence, found that there were 193 incidents of gunfire in US schools during the 2021-22 academic year. These 193 incidents were more than twice the number of incidents during the 2020-2021 school year, resulting in 59 deaths and 138 injuries. According to the survey, 4.6 million children live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm.[1]

The survey reminds us of things we know: Guns used in incidents generally come from the home, family, or friends of the shooter. Shooters nearly always exhibit warning signs. Gun violence in American schools disproportionately impact students of color.

I have four nieces, two in the Des Moines Public Schools and two in the Twin Cities. The survey suggests several policies to stop gun violence, but one hit close to home: Foster a safe and trusting school environment.[2] When shooters exhibit warning signs, we all, but especially students, need to feel safe talking about it. And mental health, gun safety, conflict resolution, and other resources need to be readily available. 

We Christians need to talk about gun violence in our homes and churches. Do you remember the NRA slogan, “Guns don't kill people, people kill people"? I always found it disingenuous because people use guns to kill people. More importantly, guns and gun violence outlive people. Our Lord is the Prince of Peace. Our God opposes violence:

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence” (Gen. 6:11). And “God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth’” (Gen. 6:13).

Ezekiel: “[God] said to me, ‘Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the people of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually arouse my anger?’” (8:17).

Hosea: “Ephraim feeds on the wind; he pursues the east wind all day and multiplies lies and violence” (12:1).

Our Lord is the Prince of Peace. Our God opposes violence. We need to talk about gun violence in our homes and churches. 

What can United Methodists do?

The United Methodist Board of Church and Society offers the following steps church members can take to advocate for gun safety. 

1. Contact your elected leaders via the Church and Society action alerts on our website, sign up to receive the agency’s emails and use the resources from the Creating Change Together Toolkit

2. Get in touch with Church and Society staff and other United Methodists doing the work.

3. Hold a prayer vigil. The Creating Change Together Toolkit offers resources for doing so.

4. Encourage congregational Bible study. The United Methodist Church’s Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities Bible Study provides a three-session gun violence prevention Bible study. 

5. Build coalitions with other organizations in your local community interested in this issue. Church and Society organizing staff can help you with some best practices for grassroots activism.

“The question of how to live as a Christian in a violent world is not particular to our time or our context, but firearms make violence more deadly and more frequent,” the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, the agency’s top executive, said. 

“We would encourage United Methodists to heed the call from the bishops, to prayerfully study Scripture and listen to stories from survivors, and then to take concrete actions that help to build the kingdom of God on earth.”

Read Council of Bishops letter.


[1] https://everytownsupportfund.org/press/new-everytown-report-finds-average-number-of-gunfire-on-school-grounds-incidents-nearly-quadrupled-during-last-school-year/?_gl=1*ifxwvo*_ga*ODUyMTMyNDc4LjE2NjA3NjgzMTU.*_ga_LT0FWV3EK3*MTY2MDkyMjczMC40LjEuMTY2MDkyMjc5My4wLjAuMA..
[2] https://everytownresearch.org/report/how-to-stop-shootings-and-gun-violence-in-schools/