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Originally published May 17, 2013 at 4:45 PM | Page modified May 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM

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Background checks are a reasonable way to curb gun violence

All the Abrahamic faiths share a unique value: that human life is sacred and our most basic human right is to live peacefully.

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Faith & Values

I welcome the recent interfaith voices against violence and for gun control in our society. For too long, violence has plagued our malls, coffee shops, movie theaters, neighborhoods and schoolyards.

All the Abrahamic faiths share a unique value: that human life is sacred and our most basic human right is to live peacefully. This common thread has helped us to join hands and speak louder for safer communities.

Local faith leaders are supporting the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR), which will take an initiative to the Legislature in 2014 calling for universal background checks to be done on all prospective gun purchasers in our state.

If the Legislature does not approve the measure, it will go on the fall ballot for a vote of the people. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live in peace and safety.

Strengthening and improving background checks would not take away the guns of law-abiding owners, but would serve as a reasonable tool to start curbing today’s alarming rate of gun violence.

The poison of violence in our society comes largely from the television and movie industries, from gangbang music and from video games, all of which celebrate, nurture and validate a culture of violence.

Our country’s easy access to guns, combined with the violent content, images and sounds that are disseminated in the media, actually desensitizes many into thinking these are legitimate reactions to life’s increasing stresses.

The reality is that gun violence ends or harms far too many lives in our country. In 2010, guns took the lives of 30,000 Americans — about 82 deaths each day, or more than three each hour. And as last weekend illustrated, the violence can happen at any time or place, even at a Mother’s Day parade, when 19 people were injured by gunfire in New Orleans.

As sisters and brothers in humanity, we all suffer when there is a murder or other gun violence. Our psychological well-being is damaged. We fear for our safety, and we distrust our fellow citizens.

According to Islam, all humans have been given a special responsibility by God. We are assigned to be viceroy for the Earth and will be accountable to God for our actions as recipients of this trust.

In the Quran (2:30) when God decided to create Adam, the angels spoke to God, saying, we praise and glorify you, but humans will make mischief and shed blood on Earth. God responded “I know what ye know not.”

Life is a test and God knew there would be people among us who would enjoin good and forbid evil. Their trial would be to build bridges of understanding, seek common values and protect the sanctity of life.

We can no longer ignore the level of gun violence and its moral and human costs. Respect for human life must be our common foundation in confronting this urgent social problem.

We all deserve to live in peace and safety.

The coming together of different faiths to curb the easy availability of deadly weapons signals a hope in the shared Abrahamic value of human life.

From our mosques, churches, synagogues and temples, may our faith communities continue the call for background checks as an important step toward a peaceful society — one that puts people before guns and values humanity over rage and vengeance.

Aziz Junejo is host of “Focus on Islam,” a weekly cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on Islam. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com

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About Mr. Aziz Junejo

Aziz Junejo is host of "Focus on Islam," a weekly cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on Islam.

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