December 13, 2018
Tomorrow marks the six-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, when 26 people, including 20 first-graders, were shot and killed in their elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Many people thought that inconceivable event would be the tipping point in our public and legislative complacency following mass shooting incidents in this country. Sadly, since then we have instead grown increasingly numb, as these events have become the “new normal” and 600,000 Americans have been killed or injured by guns in the subsequent years.
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that life expectancy in the U.S. has gone down for the first time since World War I. Apparently, our lifespans had plateaued in the past few years, and now they’re officially headed downhill. The reasons cited by the report are primarily drug overdoses, namely the opioid crisis and suicides — causes that cut short too many young lives in America. A glaring report omission is deaths due to gun violence, something the CDC, by action of Congress, is ridiculously not allowed to track or include in its reports.
Tomorrow also begins an Advent-tide “Sabbath,” a set of days when people of faith add gun violence prevention to the waiting and watching of this season. Presbyterians are invited to begin this sad Sabbath by tolling bells in their homes and places of worship for the 26 Sandy Hook victims. Add two more rings if you want to remember the shooter and his mother, who also perished in that day’s slaughter. Keep ringing if you’d like to remember the 71 killed and 42 injured victims of mass shootings so far this year. And while you ring, pray for the communities and contexts impacted by these latest tragedies. They join a long and growing list of places that never thought it could happen to them but have now been touched by the sickening epidemic of indiscriminate gun violence:
Borderline Bar and Grill, Thousand Oaks, California (11/7) — 13 killed, two injured
Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue, Pittsburgh (10/27) — 11 killed, seven injured
T&T Trucking Company, Bakersfield, California (9/12) — six killed
Capital Gazette, Annapolis, Maryland (6/28) — five killed
Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe, Texas (5/18) — 10 killed, 13 injured
Waffle House, Antioch, Tennessee (4/22) — four killed, three injured
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland Florida (2/14) — 17 killed, 17 injured
Ed’s Car Wash, Melcroft, Pennsylvania (1/28) — five killed
Source: Gun Violence Archive gunviolencearchive.org
PC(USA) policies and resources related to gun violence response and prevention can be found on the PC(USA) website.
Carl Horton serves as coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program in the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministry area of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Today’s Focus: National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
God of life’s sanctity, turn our bells into bullhorns, our thoughts into actions, our bursts of outrage into sustained efforts and our momentary prayers into transformed spirit-filled living. Make us instruments of your peace. Amen.