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Edgar affirms NCC work against gun violence

8/3/2000 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York

By Adayemi Oshodi*

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The chief executive of the National Council of Churches has reiterated the organization's support for proposals to reduce access to guns, along with efforts to ban the sale of handguns and assault weapons.

"Because we are so committed to ending this scourge of violence, the National Council of Churches has made the issue of gun violence one of its top priorities and will focus significant educational and advocacy resources on this matter in the years to come," said the Rev. Robert Edgar, who also is a United Methodist pastor.

Edgar spoke during an Aug. 1 press conference organized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He joined other faith community leaders as they called for America's religious communities, the gun industry and the nation's leaders to take responsible action to reduce gun violence. Together, they signed a statement urging American citizens to take action toward creating a safer nation.

"This is a new day," Edgar proclaimed. "It is not too late for us to stand up and say, 'No more guns, no more violence.'"

The NCC supports several proposals for reducing gun violence, including requiring waiting periods and background checks prior to the purchase of handguns.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, noted the importance of religious leaders taking a stand for the eradication of gun violence.

"Controlling guns is not only a political matter, it is a solemn religious obligation," he said. "America needs a religious voice, loud and strong, ringing with dignity, that will shatter the complacency of our lawmakers."

HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo spoke of his agency's involvement with programs like "BuyBack America," which has bought back an estimated 17,000 guns, destroying most of them.

Cuomo suggested that the devastating epidemic of gun violence in America would end when citizens organize, mobilize and become energized for change.

"The religious community has led movements to feed the hungry and house the homeless," he said. "It is now time to join their moral call to denounce the inaction of gun manufacturers who refuse to accept responsibility for lives lost to gun violence."

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*Oshodi, a journalism student at Miami University of Ohio, has served as a summer intern for both United Methodist News Service and the National Council of Churches' communications department.

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