United Methodist Church agency mourns loss of life in Tucson shooting


General Board of Church & Society condemns vitriolic political discourse, calls for more responsible gun laws.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church joins the nation in grieving the shooting incident Saturday in which six people, including a nine-year-old girl were killed in Tucson, Ariz. We pray for comfort for those families from this terrible tragedy. We also pray for full healing and recovery for the other 12 injured victims, including U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

While it seems many factors led to this tragedy, we join with Republicans and Democrats who are calling for lessening the vitriolic rhetoric that has made the political climate in the United States so toxic in recent years. The use of vicious language in political discourse, even metaphorically, only adds to a climate of fear and anger. Such language prevents a coherent dialogue that leads to solutions for the problems that society faces.

The United Methodist Church is deeply concerned with gun violence. The gunman used a weapon bought legally, but if the ban on assault weapons that unfortunately lapsed in 2004 had remained in place, then the 30-round clip he used would have been illegal. Yes, the gunman still could have inflicted a tremendous amount of harm, but it would have been dramatically reduced.

Until we make gun ownership a more responsible process, these tragic events will continue to occur.

The United Methodist Church at its 2008 General Conference, our denomination’s highest policy-making entity, passed a resolution on gun violence that states unequivocally: “No appeals to individual autonomy are sufficient to justify our church’s ignorance of this threat. The need to prevent the incidence of firearm-related injury and death is an issue of increasing concern and a priority public health issue. The United Methodist Church is among those religious communities calling for social policies and personal lifestyles that bring an end to senseless gun violence.”

The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. The board’s primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center at the United Nations.

—Jim Winkler
General Secretary
General Board of Church & Society
The United Methodist Church