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The measures, approved during a two-day retreat in Atlanta, include a ban on assault weapons, requiring criminal background checks for sales at gun shows, strengthening 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.
"We want to provide the tools for local churches to take action," said Clifford Johnson, president of the board that oversees the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA. "This will be a board of action. If we are to be true to our history, we have to speak out on issues like gun violence."
The statement deplores such acts as the Dec. 14, 2012, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., as symptoms of the "daily toll of gun violence in the United States."
"Firearms are a part of the history and fabric of our nation," the statement reads. "Changes in the laws governing the ownership and use of firearms must take into account this uniquely American experience and the ways in which our understanding of the right to keep and bear arms has developed over time."
American Baptist leaders noted the Supreme Court has held that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees an individual the right to "keep and bear arms," while also making it clear such a right is "not unlimited."
"Nor should it be," the statement continues. "The liberties we enjoy are often in tension with one another, and no right should be so broadly construed as to undermine the ability of the broader community to maintain order and the peace necessary for human life and flourishing."
Source: Baptist Standard | Bob Allen