"We have allowed fear and apathy to rule when it comes to guns in America. We have allowed the status quo to become perfectly acceptable. As a result, every year 30,000 precious lives –– each one created in God’s image –– are added to a tally that is already far too high." - Rev. Matthew Crebbin, Newtown Congregational UCC
The United Church of Christ has long advocated for sensible, responsible policies to end gun violence. More than 20 years ago, in July of 1995, the General Synod passed three resolutions dealing with guns and violence in our society. The desperate need for change was once again made painfully clear as we mourn the many lives lost in Orlando this week.
Why call for comprehensive criminal background checks?
The context of gun violence is complex – but we know that gun violence is preventable. Background checks are the only systematic way to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands. But federal law only requires background checks for gun sales at licensed dealers. An estimated 40% of all gun transfers take place between unlicensed people, often at gun shows or through online transactions, and are not subject to a background check under federal law.
Prohibited gun buyers know how to exploit this loophole, and studies show that they do. A national survey found that in nearly 8 out of 10 cases, inmates who used a handgun in a crime acquired it through a private transfer.
Part of the solution to reducing gun violence is strengthening the laws that already exist. We cannot completely enforce the current law requiring background checks unless we are able to apply background checks to all gun sales, including those bought online or at gun shows. Closing this “private sale loophole” will reduce the number of guns that end up in dangerous hands.
Our culture has a heavy investment in death; isn’t it time we invested in life and hope? Call on Congress to pass the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015 (H.R. 1217), which would ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and provide a responsible and consistent background check process.