'Stand Up Sunday' inspires congregations to tackle gun violence

'Stand Up Sunday' inspires congregations to tackle gun violence

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Hundreds of churches across the state united to bring attention to gun violence in our communities.

South Carolina is ranked 11th in the nation for gun deaths per capita.

The Mother Emanuel AME church shooting has ignited congregations to tackle the issue.

"It is time for the faithful to unite, come together as one," says Pastor Kylon Middleton of Mount Zion AME Church.

Mount Zion is the daughter church of Emanuel .

The Emanuel AME Church shooting where 9 people attending bible study were shot and killed last June fueled the 'Stand Up Sunday' movement by Gun Sense SC to tackle gun violence in the state.

"I feel it is a need for us to go on in their legacy to do something about it so it won't happen again," says longtime member of Mount Zion AME, Roberta Frasier.

"We talk about closing all loopholes that still exist in America, but it starts with us," says Pastor Middleton during his sermon.

He was close friends with Senator Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine killed in the church massacre and former pastor of Emanuel.

"Not only is the congregation still hurting, you know it's difficult for me I lost my friend and brother, and everyday it is the reality that he is gone and also the nine collectively are gone," says Pastor Middleton. "Others who are not necessarily killed in a church, but who are killed by gun violence everyday in our communities, we have to do something."

Faith based leaders among 14 denominations encouraged their congregations to sign letters to legislators urging for thorough mandatory background checks for all gun purchases.

"It is something that is doable, if our lawmakers would act sensibly just to create legislation that would close loopholes to stop individuals who should not have guns in their hands," he says.  "Nobody's trying to take anybody's guns away."

People in the congregation wanted to be a part of the change.

"We want the best for all our people and all mankind and we need to move forward for that," says Frasier.

During services church leaders asked people to take a stand to rally at the State House for stricter gun legislation.

"It really becomes one of those matters that if we don't do something, this continues to happen repeatedly over and over again, it's one of those type things like where next?" says Pastor Middleton.

According to Gun Sense SC and the latest statewide poll 9 in 10 South Carolinians are in favor of legislation that would require background checks on all gun purchases.

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