Methodist Federation for Social Action

A Resolution Regarding Handgun Violence

Submitted by Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA)

WHEREAS, United Methodists have called the Church “to affirm its faith through vigorous efforts to curb and eliminate gun violence” [Resolution 251, Book of Resolutions 2004, readopted 2008] andthe Eastern Pennsylvania Conference has consistently adopted resolutions condemning gun violence; and

WHEREAS, the illegal trade in handguns and the “straw purchasing” of handguns in bulk by technically eligible individuals who actually are stand-ins for prohibited felons is assisted by Pennsylvania’s lenient handgun purchase laws and the General Assembly has been recalcitrant in refusing to adopt “One Handgun A Month” legislation which would limit the legal purchase of handguns to one per month per buyer; and

WHEREAS, Heeding God’s Call: A Peace Gathering has resulted inan historic beginning to a direct action, faith-based initiative bringing together committed people of faith determined to protest the illegal trafficking of handguns by directly confronting Pennsylvania’s handgun retailers to act responsibly, morally, and voluntarily; and 

WHEREAS, several Eastern Pennsylvania Conference churches have been instrumental in organizing events related to Heeding God’s Call and two elders were arrested while engaging in civil disobedience protesting straw-purchasing; and

WHEREAS, Colosimo’s Gun Center, 9th and Spring Garden Streets, Philadelphia, is listed among the top five worst gun dealers in the United States by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, is a known source of illegal straw purchasing, and continues to be the focus of this historic faith-based Heeding God’s Call initiative; and

WHEREAS, despite faith-community led negotiations, Mr. James Colosimo refuses to voluntarily agree to a 10-point Code of Conduct designed by the Mayors Coalition Against Gun Violence and adopted by Wal-Mart, the largest retailer of guns and ammunition in the United States;

NOW, THERFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference unwaveringly and conscientiously condemns the practice of straw purchasing and calls upon James Colosimo and every handgun retailer within its bounds to agree to the 10-point voluntary code, “Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership;” and  

BE IT RESOLVED, that each congregation within the Conference is encouraged to study the issue and consider how it can directly challenge gun retailers located in our communities to voluntarily adopt the Code; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference supports the continued action of Heeding God’s Call and its successor organizations and expresses its ongoing support for actions leading to the stemming of handgun violence in Pennsylvania including the end of straw purchasing and the legislative limitation to “One Handgun A Month” as indicated in currently proposed legislation; and  

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be mailed by the Conference Secretary (a) to Mr. Colosimo and, (b) to elected members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly representing the communities of our churches, and (c) the Heeding God’s Call Interim Coordinating Committee.

Persons responsible for presenting the Resolution: James F. McIntire and David R. Tatgenhorst