Last Sunday morning (Aug 4, 2019) we awoke to the horrible news of yet another mass shooting. Our faith calls us to condemn the hateful climate that’s surfaced in our country. In the days between July 28 and August 4, 2019, thirty-two people were killed, and sixty people were wounded by gunfire from semi-automatic, assault style rifles in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. In 2019 there have been 255 mass shootings, resulting in 273 deaths in the United States of America.*
In response to this evil, statements of denunciation have been issued, assurances of concern have been delivered, prayers for grief and petitions for comfort have been offered and policy suggestions have been made. Still, the killings continue. Still, families are ripped apart. Still, communities are torn asunder. Still, prayers of grief are offered. Still, petitions for comfort are lifted. Still, hateful rhetoric flows from the seats of power. Still, powerful guns and the bullets that they fire are readily available for purchase.
We once again raise our voices in outrage and lament. We are outraged by the notion that nothing can be done. We are outraged by the hateful language directed toward immigrants, people of color and adherents of religions not our own. We are broken by the loss of the life. We grieve with those who grieve. The river of tears that flows touches at the deepest of levels.
Yet, we are hopeful. We are hopeful that in the name of faith, hope and justice people will come together. We are hopeful that words of hate will be rejected and refuted. We are hopeful that legislation intended to reduce the gun violence will be enacted. Specifically, we urge the United States Senate to immediately join the House of Representatives in passing the 2019 Background Check Act and the President to reenact the 1994 assault weapons ban that will remove military style, high capacity semi-automatic weapons from civilian use.
We stand ready to work for all who work for the common good. May our faith help us build the Beloved Community.
Please join me in signing these petitions, and join us this Sunday in worship, as we pray for strength and courage, and we respond with conscious action to transform the weapons of war, into instruments of peace.
Blessings, Pastor Laurie
*According to Gun Violence Archive as reported by the Huffpost, Aug. 5, 2019. (The GVA defines a mass shooting as any incident in which at least four people were shot, excluding the shooter. This puts 2019 on pace to be the first year since 2016 with an average of more than one mass shooting a day. (CBS News, Aug. 5)
Articles and petitions for gun controls:
We need more than thoughts and prayers, congress needs to hear from you, to support the consideration and passage of S.42, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.
The Democratic majority in the House has sent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell TWO gun reform bills to close loopholes and establish universal background checks. But McConnell has refused a vote on either.
Gun Violence by the Numbers
- Each year over 30,000 Americans are killed by guns. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
- More U.S. citizens have died in the last 50 years by guns in our homes, streets and schools than have died in the history of all U.S. wars. (Congressional Research Service and CDC/National Center for Health Statistics)
- Firearms are the second leading cause of death (after motor vehicle accidents) for young people age 19 and under in the U.S. (CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control)
- 8 American children and teens age 19 and under are killed by guns every day. (CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control)
- A child/teen is killed or injured by a gun every 30 minutes (Children’s Defense Fund)
- Newtown Happens Every Week in America. More children die every 3 days in America by a gun than died in the December 14, 2012 Newtown massacre. (Children’s Defense Fund)
- Nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths are suicides. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
- More guns = more suicides. People in states with many guns have elevated rates of suicide, particularly firearm suicide. (Harvard School of Public Health Study)
- For each time a gun in the home was used for a protective shooting, there were:
- 4 unintentional shootings
- 7 criminal assaults or homicides
- 11 suicides (Journal of Trauma, 1998)
- 60% of those who own a gun give personal safety/protection as top reason for ownership. (2013 Gallup Poll)
- Gun violence costs the U.S. $229 billion annually. (Mother Jones and Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation)
- There are more than 300 million guns in civilian hands in the United States today. (Congressional Research Service)