(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)
Several faith leaders gathered for a press conference on the issue of fire arms laws at the Washington National Cathedral where bell-ringing was held in remembrance of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The bells of the DC Cathedral sounded at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, one week after the tragedy took place that resulted in 26 deaths, including 20 children. Another victim was found at a residence. The news conference held involved an interfaith coalition of faith leaders who called for action against gun violence.
"There is hope because this tragedy will move us to action," said the Rev. Michael Livingston, former president of the National Council of Churches, in a statement Friday morning just outside the cathedral.
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, said a prayer at the event, which had a broad range of faith groups represented.
"We will never forget them, oh God, and we pledge to honor their memories by doing what we all know to be right," said Budde.
The group gathered there advocated for an assault weapons ban and for a stricter enforcement of background checks.
Across the United States, churches held moments of remembrance. At churches like First Congregational Church of Ellsworth, Maine and First AME Church of Los Angeles, Calif., bells rang 26 times for each of the school victims. Some churches opted to ring their bells 27 times, adding to the number the shooter's first victim on that day, his mother.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement regarding the Sandy Hook shooting, wherein they expressed a need to limit fire arms access and confront the culture's glorification of violence.
"With regard to the regulation of fire arms, first, the intent to protect one's loved ones is an honorable one, but simply put, guns are too easily accessible," reads the statement in part.
"The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in their document, 'The International Arms Trade (2006),' emphasized the importance of enacting concrete controls on handguns, for example, noting that 'limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.'"
The moment of silence and bell ringing done across the country come on the same day of the National Rifle Association's first press conference since last Friday's shooting.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, told those gathered in Washington, D.C., that the tragedy showed that schools need armed security guards to be made safe from "the monsters and the predators of the world."
"The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters, people that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them," said LaPierre.
In addition to mainline Protestant, Catholic, and non-Christian sects, evangelical leaders were also present at the conference held near the National Cathedral.
The Rev. Gabriel Salguero of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and the Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, were also in attendance.