It has happened again! This time the city of Nashville has been added to the list of cities and universities that have had to endure the unimaginable pain of losing loved ones to gun violence. It is unthinkable that six children of God were murdered at Covenant Presbyterian Church: The Covenant School. Just last month three students were killed at Michigan State University and five others wounded. The Gun Violence Archive estimates that there have been 130 mass shootings in the United States in just three months. Gun violence is a preventable public health epidemic affecting communities all over the U.S.
What must we do to end this senseless, horrifying violence? For people of faith, we must continue to go to God praying for courage and seeking solidarity with impacted communities. We must demonstrate a sense of righteous anger while demonstrating a commitment to do something to bring it to an end.
We must not give in to despair as there have been gains realized in the effort to end gun violence. The families of nine Sandy Hook school shooting victims won a lawsuit for $73 million against Remington, the maker of the AR-15-style rifle. In the past two years, states have passed significant legislation from an outright ban on assault weapons to strengthening regulations and background checks. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, have banned ghost guns, assault weapons, and high-capacity ammunition. Laws have strengthened background checks and raised the minimum age to purchase weapons. President Biden has repeatedly called on lawmakers to ban assault weapons. On Saturday, June 25, 2022, after the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, he signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. It was the first major gun safety legislation passed by Congress in nearly 30 years.
What must we do? We urge Presbyterians to demand that members of Congress act now!
- Congress must ban automatic weapons.
- Congress must pass House legislation (R. 8 and H.R. 1446) to close loopholes in background checks and urge its passage in the Senate.
- Congress must repeal 397 – Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that prohibits civil liability lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages, injunctive or other relief resulting from the misuse of their products by others.
- Promote the passage of Red Flag laws to confiscate guns from potentially dangerous individuals.
- Members must visit families with loved ones who have died from gun violence in their district to hear their pleas for action.
- Citizens must mount public pressure on munition companies to reduce their production of automatic weapons globally.
- And as always, pray for healing but also for a change in the culture of America that glorifies violence and makes sacred the right to own a gun.
Following the Covenant Presbyterian shooting, Senate Chaplain Barry Black offered a moving and appropriate prayer for lawmakers to take action against gun violence. He prayed, “Lord, when babies die at a church school it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers. Remind our lawmakers of the words of the British statesman Edmund Burke: ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.’”
Let’s do something!