NCC 'Disappointed' Over Court Ruling on Guns

The National Council of Churches (NCC) has expressed "disappointment" at a Supreme Court decision expanding the rights of citizens to possess firearms.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday to allow city and state gun regulations to be challenged by gun owners.

In particular, the ruling will allow judicial review of Chicago's 28-year-old total ban on handguns, which is likely to be overturned.

"Across the country, cities are struggling with how to address this issue," Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said in a statement after the ruling.

"Common sense tells you we need fewer guns on the street, not more guns," he added.

The Rev. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary, said that the ruling highlights the urgency of legislators to "enact reforms that limit access to assault weapons and handguns," quoting from a resolution passed by the group in May.

"The member communions of the National Council of Churches do not for a moment suppose that the justices who voted in the majority are insensitive to this reality, or think that the Second Amendment protects the right of irresponsible or criminal gun owners to misuse their weapons," Kinnamon said.

"That makes it even more urgent that the Supreme Court clarify how laws can be implemented and enforced to protect all citizens from the misuse of guns," he added.

Kinnamon noted that most NCC member communions understand the Second Amendment as a move by the framers to enable 18th century citizens to keep arms available for military use if the country were attacked.

"We would agree with Justice John Paul Stevens, who said in his dissent that the amendment has 'only a limited bearing on the question that confronts the homeowner in a crime-infested metropolis today,' and his observation that 'firearms have a fundamentally ambivalent relationship to liberty,'" he said.

Some 90 million people own an estimated 200 million guns in the United States, which the highest rate of gun ownership among civilians, according to Reuters.

Every year, nearly 100,000 Americans are affected by gun violence and some 1.5 million crimes are committed involving a firearm.

"Present-day violence is made far worse than it otherwise would be by the prevalence of weapons on our streets," the NCC's resolution states. 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."

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.

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