The National Council of Churches is taking a stand against gun violence in the United States, which the group has learned affects an estimated 100,000 Americans every year.
"The United States is rapidly moving from a land of hospitality and freedom to a land of the fearful and the besieged, with gun violence being the driving force behind this change," said a resolution from the group's Governing Board, adopted unanimously during a May 17-18 meeting in New Jersey.
"We have become a nation at war with ourselves and numbed to the sacredness of human life," it adds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 1.5 million crimes committed where firearms are used every year.
And while the NCC does acknowledge gun ownership as a constitutional right, the group stresses that relatively few shootings occur from average citizens defending themselves.
"Rather, most fatal and non-fatal shootings result from abuse or misuse of gun," they say, citing that over 40,000 deaths annually are caused by citizens shooting and killing others intentional, accidental, suicidal, drug or gang related.
The NCC also notes that gun-related deaths or injuries are disproportionately higher among the African-American and Latino communities.
"Present-day violence is made far worse than it otherwise would be by the prevalence of weapons on our streets," the group says. The Christian tradition "insists that it is idolatry to trust in guns to make us secure, since that usually leads to mutual escalation while distracting us from the One whose love alone gives us security."
"Christians can certainly contend that it is necessary for public authorities to take up arms in order to protect citizens from violence; but to allow assault weapons in the hands of the general public can scarcely be justified on Christian grounds," they continue. "The stark reality is that such weapons end up taking more lives than they defend, and the reckless sale or use of these weapons refutes the gospel's prohibition against violence."
The group goes on to call for a closure of the so-called federal "gun show loophole," which allows for the purchase of firearms from private sellers without submitting to a background check, or providing documentation of the purchase.
The resolution also calls on Christians to get involved with movements to end gun violence and to "prayerfully, financially, and otherwise" support the NCC in its efforts on the issue.
The National Council of Churches represents some 45 million Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches in more than 100,000 congregations across the nation.