Gun Violence Policy
The PC(USA) and its predecessor bodies have addressed gun violence through the actions of many General Assemblies in the last fifty years. Beginning in the late 1960’s, in response to the assassinations of public leaders, the General Assembly called for “….control [of] the sale and possession of firearms of all kinds.” Similar resolutions were passed again in 1976, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1996 and 1998.
Each resolution reflected a sense of moral urgency in response to rising gun violence and the cultural trends that contributed to it. These resolutions have called on the church to be involved in education and advocacy at the federal, state, and community level to prevent gun violence. In 1991 and 1996, these resolutions were backed up with strong educational curricula as well as comprehensive strategies for advocacy.
In 2008 the General Assembly recommended that churches should take seriously the pastoral implications of caring for members of our community who have experienced the pain of gun violence, advocate for legislation that would increase the safety and well-being of communities in relation to the presence of guns, and conduct a national study on gun violence. From this recommendation, a gun violence prevention task force of ten people was formed under the auspices of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy.
The task force worked tirelessly over the next two years and produced a comprehensive study of contemporary gun violence in the United States, complete with recommendations for the church as to how to address this critical issue. This study was unanimously approved by the 219th General Assembly.