Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is encouraging church members to call on federal legislators to address gun violence in the USA.
In a message for an ecumenical and inter-faith 'call-in' day of action for Congress, she declared: "The United States has witnessed far too many public shootings in recent months and years. Far too many lives have been cut short or maimed by both random and targeted acts of gun violence. The school shooting in Newtown was horrific, yet since that day several times as many young people have died by gunshot."
Bishop Jefferts Schori continued: "It is abundantly clear that Americans are ready to grapple with the complexities of gun violence. The Spirit is moving across this land to mobilise people of faith to act. I urge the United States members of this Church to call your federal legislators on Monday 4 February to express your concern and your expectation that gun violence be addressed."
"The outlines of the necessary policy decisions are clear and widely supported: limits on sales of military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, effective background checks for all gun purchases, better access to mental health services, and attention to gun trafficking," she said.
"We believe all God's people should be able to live in peace, as Zechariah dreams, "old men and women shall again sit in the streets... And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing." The prophet reminds his hearers that even if this seems impossible, with God it is not. [Zecheriah 8:4-6] I urge you to add your voice to those clamouring for peace. Call your legislators and sue for peace," concluded the Presiding Bishop.
The Anglican church is also getting people to sign a pledge to 'break the cycle of violence' and change the culture around guns (http://episcopal.grassroots.com/act-now/details/break-the-cycle-of-violence).
Interfaith vigils are being organised around the country, including one in Seattle (http://candlelightmarch.org/).
Meanwhile, Episcopalians Against Gun Violence, "an ad-hoc group of bishops, clergy and lay people disseminating information about Episcopalians who are working, collectively and individually, to curb gun violence", has been established on the social networking site Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/EpiscopaliansAgainstGunViolence).
Critics of the current situation point out that every day an average of 33 people in the United States are killed by gunshot wounds.
Gun violence prevention is also a racial justice issue. In 2010, 45 per cent of gun related deaths and 46 per cent of injuries were among black children and teenagers, who constituted only 15 per cent of all children and teens overall.
Black males ages 15-19 were eight times as likely as white males of the same age and two-and-a-half times as likely as their Hispanic peers to be killed in gun related homicides in 2009.
The call-in day of action is being backed by the National Council of Churches USA (NCCUSA) and its member denominations and communions.
* Interfaith Call-in Day to Prevent Gun Violence - Action Toolkit: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1845/p/salsa/web/common/public/cont...