World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

You are here: Home / Resources / Documents / WCC general secretary / Statements / Shootings in Virginia, USA

Shootings in Virginia, USA

17 April 2007

16 April 2007 

I would like to express my deep sorrow for the 33 people who have been shot at the Virginia Tech University yesterday. Like many people, my heart went out to them when I heard this dreadful news. I pray that God will keep and comfort the bereaved as they mourn the loss of loved ones and of people so young. Our prayers go also to the 29 wounded for speedy and full recovery. 

Churches around the world join churches and councils of churches in the US in sending sympathies to those who are suffering, and in upholding parishes in Virginia in their ministry during these difficult days. As we do so, we also wonder in disbelief at this new horror of random violence. In deference to those who have died and with concern for the future, we all must ask why such killings happen so easily. Why are these incidents repeated as if there are no remedies? How can anyone accept such failures in a society with so much to offer for the well-being of its citizens?

Today and in the days to come, national leaders, state leaders and the gun lobby across the USA must hear more than the latest outburst of anger at violence in America. They must also begin to understand the rising frustration among concerned citizens and governments around the world.

The World Council of Churches has 347 member churches in over 100 countries. For many of them the news from Virginia today is little different than the news from Darfur yesterday and the news from Iraq tomorrow. They see wanton killings, the indiscriminate use of armed force and the widespread availability of deadly weapons.  

Churches around the world have also noticed something behind such news. They understand that one of the major obstacles to effective global regulation of small arms and light weapons is the pro-gun position adopted by the US administration during years of international negotiations. There are other factors involved, but US arms manufacturing and arms sales policies have violent consequences abroad as well as in the US.  

We are all Virginians in our sympathy, but many people around the world are also Virginians in their vulnerability to the misuse of unregulated guns. Each day, about 1,000 of them die from gun violence and many more are injured. 

The globalized trade in small arms and light weapons must come under firm and appropriate controls. Much greater accountability by local, national and international authorities is necessary. Virginia is only the latest of many violent incidents that require an urgent national and international response.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General secretary
World Council of Churches