As I wrote on Thursday afternoon, word broke of yet another shooting at a school. This time a 14-year-old was shot at a middle school in Atlanta, Georgia. According to police, the suspect is in custody and the wounded student is “alert.” Both suspect and victim are students at the middle school.
This shooting occurred:
- 7 weeks after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, CT which left 28 dead.
- 3 weeks after a 16-year-old shot two students with a shotgun at Taft High School, Taft, CA.
- 16 days after a student shot an administrator and himself at Stevens Institute of Business and Arts in downtown St. Louis.
- 9 days after three people were shot at Lone Star Community College near Houston, TX.
- 2 days after King Prep High School student, Hadiya Pendleton was shot to death in a park in Chicago.
- 1 day after a gunman shot and killed a school bus driver and abducted a Kindergarten student in Midland City, Alabama.
And those are just the school-related shootings.
To say that all this breaks my heart sounds far too trite, and yet other, better words fail to present themselves. I am sad and I am angry. It seems clear this is not how God intends for us to treat one another. It seems clear that our culture is addicted to violence and in love with guns. It seems clear that I am part of the problem. From the shows I watch to the movies I enjoy to the books I read to the comics I buy, violence is too often a common denominator.
Yet what can we do? After all, Deacon Beth sharply reminded us earlier this month as she considered King Herod’s actions after the birth of Jesus, the slaughtering of innocents is not a new phenomenon. What can we do? Are we resigned to this fate? Beth concluded her post with a brilliant response: “May we choose, as followers of Christ, not to buy guns for an illusory feeling of ‘protection.’ And may we fight, fight, fight for sanity in our gun laws.”
Now a new way to enter that fight for sanity presents itself.
We – as individuals, as families, as a congregation – can emulate The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society and United Methodist Women by joining our voices with Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. Over 40 denominations and faith-based organizations have joined, including Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs.
This coalition wrote a letter to President Obama and Congress, which reads in part:
Gun violence is taking an unacceptable toll on our society, in mass killings and in the constant day-to-day of senseless death. While we continue to pray for the families and friends of those who have perished, we must also support our prayers with action.We support immediate legislative action to accomplish the following:
Every person who buys a gun should pass a criminal background check;
High capacity weapons and ammunition magazines should not be available to civilians; and
Gun trafficking should be a federal crime.
Adding our voice to this movement will not, by itself, stop all gun violence. A diversity of other actions are needed too. Actions born of our faith that the one we call Lord and Savior is also Prince of Peace. But this is a good step in the right direction. It is something we can do. Join the Faiths United coalition here.
For more on this:
- Read the United Methodist Church’s Resolution on Gun Violence.
- Read Demand a Plan from Mayors Against Illegal Guns for a non-fatih-based perspective.
- Read this report from Mother Jones on gun laws and mass shootings in America.
- Read this guide to the gun safety debate from Think Progress.
- Read this fact checking of politicians’ statements on guns from Politifact.