56 Black Faith Leaders Ask Congress to Pass Tougher Gun Laws

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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More than 50 black faith leaders wrote to Congress asking lawmakers to pass tougher gun legislation requiring background checks for all gun sales, including private sales.

The open letter from leaders across the country coincided with the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington, the Washington Post reported.

“Together, we will honor the awe-inspiring demonstration of over 250,000 men, women and children who gathered on Aug. 28 in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial and the concerted efforts of everyday citizens compelled by their belief in equality and dignity of all human life,” the letter says.

The leaders estimate 270 million guns are in circulation in the United States, and as members of the clergy they meet victims of gun violence every day. The letter says that Congress’ failure to pass Manchin-Toomey, which would require background checks on gun purchases at gun shows and on the Internet, was a failure of lawmakers’ “obligation to humanity.”

“On this national anniversary, we must not only herald the progress we have made as a country, but we must take stock of the detrimental decisions and policies of indifference that turn a blind eye to the alarming magnitude of lives cut short too soon,” the letter says. “Each generation has an opportunity and an obligation. Our past and future generations command that we sound the clarion call to end gun violence in our communities.”

The letter says African-American children and teens are more than twice as likely to be killed by a gun than by a car accident. The number of black children and teens were killed by guns between 1963 to 2010 is more than 17 times the recorded lynchings of African-Americans from 1882-1968.

“In 2012 alone, 6.6 million guns were sold without a background check for the buyer," the leaders wrote. "As a result, persons who are mentally ill, those with criminal records and even domestic abusers are able to purchase guns without a background check. Past and future generations require that we act on the opportunity and obligation to achieve common sense gun reform.”

The letter is signed by 56 pastors from coast-to-coast.

President Barack Obama made gun reform a key goal for his administration in the wake of the December school shooting at Newtown, Conn., that resulted in the death of 20 children and six adults. Expansion of background checks for gun sales failed in the Senate in April.

“We do not want the public’s attention to this issue to be forgotten,” said Rev. Delman Coates, president of the Black Church Center for Justice and Equality, who helped organize the group letter told the Washington Post. “We are not anti-guns. There are several pastors in this coalition who are proud gun owners. We’re for responsible gun ownership.”

Source: Washington Post