Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders renew call for gun control in the wake of the Oregon shootings

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to send volunteers to meet with synod and presbytery leaders

October 2, 2015


Once again, the nation finds itself reeling from another mass shooting. Authorities in Roseburg, Oregon are still investigating what led a 26-year-old man to open fire at the Umpqua Community College, killing nine people and injuring at least seven others in the remote northwestern community. The shooter, identified as Chris Harper Mercer, was killed by police during the rampage.

The shooting has once again raised the issue of gun control across the nation, prompting the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to issue a new call for prayer and action.

“We mourn with the families of those who lost their lives in this senseless shooting and pray for God’s comfort over the entire community,” says the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the PC(USA)’s Office of the General Assembly. “We also denounce this act of violence, and urge those in power to push stringently for gun control.” 

Roseburg is described as a former timber town nearly 200 miles south of Portland, where the PC(USA)’s 222nd General Assembly 2016 will be held.  Approximately 3,000 students attend the community college. This is not the town’s first encounter with gun violence. Authorities say a local high school freshman shot and wounded another student in 2006. 

“This was the 45th shooting at a school in 2015 and the 142nd shooting since Sandy Hook,” says Carl Horton, coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. “As we as the church prepare to gather around a wide table this World Communion Sunday, may we strengthen our resolve to work to end violence in all of its forms.” 

Meantime, Jim Kirk and Sally Dyer, volunteers with the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance National Response Team, are headed to Roseburg this weekend to meet with the Synod of the Pacific and Presbytery of the Cascades as well to as worship with members of First Presbyterian Church in Roseburg on Sunday. PDA will be offering its support and council, as needed, to church officials. 

PC(USA) church leaders are asking Presbyterians to remember the victims and their families in prayer during this time and have posted a prayer by the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, PDA coordinator, on the PDA website.

  1. It isn't the guns that we need to control, but the people using the guns. It is our constitutional right to own guns. Guns need to be put in a safe place in the home and also, everyone even the youngest members of the household need to be educated about guns. Children need to be told to not touch the guns, and made to understand that guns hurt people. Guns should be kept in a place where children do not have access to the guns.

    by Luella Broe

    November 12, 2015

  2. Well said. Those who are defenders of gun rights should read up on their history. The right to bear arms, was recently interpreted, in its broader context ( District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)). There are different versions to consider. As passed by the Congress and preserved in the National Archives, with the rest of the original hand-written copy of the Bill of Rights prepared by scribe William Lambert:[29] A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, then-Secretary of State:[30] A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. I have never seen a statement by the NRA explaining why "well regulated Militia" is included in the wording. My take is that a state-level national guard was desirable to prevent an Federal government, such as we have today. The Fathers wanted to continue a loose confederation of states. I can seem some reason in the National Guard having arms, which, I believe, was the intent of the language. I believe that the Australians, the French, even the English have the right answer--and we continue to kill ourselves everyday.

    by John White

    October 8, 2015

  3. I am a Presbyterian and I say to you. You need to pay attention to the Constitution which, I think, was modeled after the laws and bylaws of the Presbyterian Church. Maybe you should talk more about mental health issues and hate, and spiritual matters. Your recent announcements about social issues are very devisive for our church and has caused, among other things, our church membership to plummet. If you keep this up, you may end up without a job and no one to preach to. I

    by Judy Black

    October 5, 2015

  4. Respectfully, perhaps "we" should review the investigation results before urging governmental policy actions in one specific area.

    by Samuel G. Snyder

    October 4, 2015

  5. What's with this "we" business? Gradye Parsons isn't the Pope of the PCUSA. He speaks for himself alone.

    by Wes

    October 3, 2015

  6. PCUSA is blessed to have such excellent staff helping to counter gun violence. Yesterday a new gun control law was signed into law in Delaware, countering the NRA myth that new gun control laws cannot be passed. The President and Vice-President of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence are Presbyterians. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has a hymn lamenting gun violence on the PCUSA web site that is good for a solo or congregational singing this Sunday or any time: "God of Mercy, You Have Shown Us


    by Bruce Gillette

    October 3, 2015