U.S. Baptists call for steps to reduce impact of guns

(Photo: Reuters / Las Vegas Sun / Steve Marcus)Sign Sauer handguns are displayed during the annual SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas January 15, 2013.

A U.S. Baptist denomination is calling for measures to reduce the impact of firearms on individuals, families, communities, and the nation.

The move move is in line with several other Christian denominations and groups following the mass shooting in Connecticut last year that resulted in the deaths of 20 children.

American Baptist Churches (U.S.A.) said on Wednesday that by a unanimous vote, its U.S. mission arm adopted a statement last week on gun violence that that includes ten steps, including banning assault weapons and requiring criminal background checks for sales at gun shows.

Dr. Clifford Johnson, president of the Board of Directors of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, said the church wants to "provide the tools for local churches to take action."

"This will be a board of action," he said. "If we are to be true to our history, we have to speak out on issues like gun violence."

The move by American Baptists comes amid recent proposals by legislators and President Barack Obama to deal with mass shootings.

Other religious bodies and denominations who have expressed support for the proposals since they were announced last week have included the National Council of Churches, the United Methodist Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Social Action Commission, the National Cathedral, the Holy See, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Among the other measures being advocated in the American Baptists' statement are the strengthening of regulations of gun dealers, required reporting of lost or stolen guns to law enforcement, and restoring firearms research funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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