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Common Ground

Talking about Gun Violence in America

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Westminster John Knox Press
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Every time a shooting makes national headlines, the same debates erupt: Is the problem guns or mental health? Why is the United States unique in its gun violence problem? Can we reduce this violence while protecting the right to bear arms?

Newtown, Connecticut, native and Disciples of Christ minister Donald V. Gaffney brings a calm and compassionate voice to these complex questions, offering a guide for individuals and groups to reflect on and discuss guns and gun violence. Common Ground explores the place of guns in our individual and national histories, violence in Scripture, the legal issues surrounding gun rights, and ways in which we as moral, life-valuing people can bridge the divide to help solve the problem of gun violence in the United States.

To move beyond the talking points and rhetoric dominating gun violence discussions, Gaffney concludes chapters with questions for reflection and discussion to encourage self-examination, exploration, and evaluation of potential solutions to gun violence.

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Donald V. Gaffney is a Disciples of Christ minister who was born and raised in Newtown, Connecticut, and attended Sandy Hook Elementary School as a child. Profoundly affected by the mass shooting at Sandy Hook on December 14, 2012, Gaffney has immersed himself in the issues surrounding gun violence, especially as it is discussed in the church. He serves as an elder at Central Christian Church in Hermitage, Pennsylvania. 

Common Ground
Talking about Gun ...
by Westminster John Knox Press
Donald V. Gaffney
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“Donald Gaffney offers an insightful and faithful perspective on the issue of guns in America. Here is an exploration of gun violence that encourages honest conversation with self, neighbor, and God. Gaffney’s book offers a way forward just as many religious Americans are beginning to recognize the social and theological costs of silence with regard to gun violence in all our communities.”
—Matthew Crebbin, Lead Pastor, Newtown (Connecticut) Congregational Church, UCC, and Clergy First Responder at Sandy Hook Elementary School 

“A welcome entry into one of our most fraught national conversations. A gun owner, Gaffney looks respectfully at both ‘gun rights’ and ‘gun control’ perspectives. By including the troubling U.S. history of the myth of redemptive violence, the intersection of gun laws with race, and the complex biblical record of violence, Gaffney ensures that it will be no easy conversation. It is, however, an enlightening one, leading beyond talk to faithful action.”
—Sharon Watkins, Director, National Council of Churches Racial Justice Initiative

“Gaffney offers a timely resource for those longing to faithfully engage the enormous problem of gun violence in America. Common Ground rewards open minds with insightful examples and thought-provoking questions that seek to carve out a space in our ‘us vs. them’ cultural milieu where diverse voices are simultaneously welcomed and challenged.”
—William M. Shelburne, Presbyterian minister and co-organizer, Leaves of the Tree project, a response to gun violence in Savannah, Georgia

“Transparently speaking from his own social and cultural location as a white Christian clergyman who both owns firearms and is a committed activist in the movement to end gun violence, Gaffney invites readers to consider their own and America’s troubled relationship with gun violence and culture. He offers helpful questions with historical, biblical, and cultural reflection to support readers as they listen deeply to their own stories and the experience of others. His journey will resonate with many who wish to work for a common solution to gun violence across the broad and increasingly polarized reaches of U.S. society from a place of faith, grief, repentance, and hope.”

—Laurie A. Kraus, Director, Disaster Assistance for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

“[Common Ground is] designed for use in churches and aims to help us have a sane conversation about one of our most polarizing issues.” —The Christian Century

"Gaffney challenges us to move out of the comfortable space of answers, which just leads to debate, and into a space of listening for understanding. He does this through storytelling and invites us to share our stories that have led us to the positions we take when it comes to gun violence prevention." —Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology

“It seems so frequent now that we hear about shootings taking place again and again. And yet, each time we ask: why does this continue to happen? Unfortunately, many of us are not equipped to discuss gun violence directly. Rev. Gaffney has provided conversation models to help bridge the tremendous divide between our differing opinions of guns so that we can take positive action. We can no longer be silent; we have to engage this difficult topic with people we disagree with if we are to come up with solutions to prevent the next attack.”
—Vy T. Nguyen, Executive Director, Week of Compassion

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