Enough! Gun violence in America has gone on for far too long, too many have died, and far too little has been done. President Joe Biden firmly remarked, “We Have to Act!” It is Time to Act!
Gun violence in the United States is a public health crisis at the epidemic level. Within one week, 18 lives have been lost, and families forever traumatized by gun violence. In the attack in Atlanta, victims were targeted because of their race. In Boulder, victims were shopping for groceries when they were murdered. This violence has to end!
According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 106 mass shootings in the United States in 2021. The nation’s deadliest mass murder took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2017. A shooter killed 58 people and wounded 546 in just over 10 minutes. Our children and young adults are not exempt from being targeted. Thirteen college students were murdered and 31 wounded at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966; 32 students were murdered on Virginia Tech’s campus in 2007. In 1999, 12 high school students (and one teacher) were murdered at Columbine High School; in Newtown, Connecticut, 27 people were killed, most being elementary school children (20).
The United States is one of few countries to endure massive casualties and not respond with preventive legislation. After lethal shootings, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom passed laws to curb gun violence by banning automatic weapons and gun buy-back programs. Each country credited these laws with saving lives and the decline of gun deaths.
As our hearts mourn the victims of mass shootings, we must also weep for all gun violence victims. Most are not murdered in mass shootings that gain media attention but in smaller acts of gun violence that terrorize families and neighborhoods. According to The Guardian, “Much of America’s day-to-day gun violence is concentrated in America’s poorest, most racially segregated neighborhoods – places with high rates of unemployment, struggling school systems, and high levels of mistrust between police officers and community members. African Americans, who represent 13% of the total population, make up more than half of overall gun murder victims. Roughly 15 of the 30 Americans murdered with guns each day are Black men… Some Black neighborhoods have experienced so much violence that their residents report symptoms of post-traumatic stress at rates comparable to veterans of war.”
What Can We Do?
- Pray for a reduction in gun-related violence and the number of guns in this country.
- Do advocacy with members of Congress for effective gun legislation. Support House of Representatives legislation (H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446) to close loopholes in background checks to be passed in the Senate.
- Mount public, ongoing pressure on munition companies to reduce their production of automatic weapons and the wholescale sale of firearms worldwide. Start public campaigns to publicly shame them into doing more to self-regulate the number of firearms they release upon the streets of America.
- Advocate for the repeal of the 2005 “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” that prohibits lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers claiming liability in gun deaths. Push for the prosecution of those who violate limitations within the bill.
- Publicly support businesses that have stopped selling weapons and/or ammunition and prohibit open carry. After the Parkland shooting, Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling assault weapons. Walmart, Walgreens, Wegmans, CVS, and Kroger’s have a “No Open Carry” policy. LL Bean no longer sells guns and ammunition to those under 21.
- Challenge conversations stating that mental illness is the cause of gun violence. Persons with mental illness are more likely to be victims rather than perpetrators.
- Focus on prevention. Promote your state to adopt “Red Flag” gun laws that confiscate guns from potentially dangerous individuals.
- Advocate for the CDC, HHS, and other agencies to reinstate research into gun violence related to public health. A congressional 1996 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act eliminated $2.6 from the CDC budget used to research gun violence.
- Support non-profits and advocacy organizations such as Sandy Hook Promise and the March For Our Lives movement.
This is a matter of utmost importance for our nation’s well-being and our children’s emotional, mental, and physical health. People of faith are people of peace, and if its attainment requires the sacrifice of some of our rights, that’s ok. Because once someone has lost a family member or friend to gun violence, that trauma can’t be undone. Let us pray and act that gun violence may not only be reduced in America but brought to an end. “(God) shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4) We pray for that day.
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