For those of us who believe in a merciful God, days like this are particularly hard. The unimaginable violence in Oregon follows similar tragedies in South Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, more places than I can list. Why does that not shame us into action?
The worship of unrestricted gun ownership has become a false idol in American culture. The Washington Post reports 294 mass shootings (four or more victims) this year, more than one a day. And Vox.com points out we lose exponentially more lives in the U.S. to gun violence than to terrorism.
We insist the danger comes from without when in truth it almost always comes from within.
Most advocates working against gun violence don’t want to take away anyone’s hunting rifles or handguns kept for target shooting. They do want to limit access to weapons developed exclusively to kill large numbers of people quickly, and they want background screenings prior to purchase. Because making someone wait a little bit seems like a reasonable accommodation if it saves people’s lives.
So will we, once again, allow gun rights advocates and their highly paid lobbyists to carry the day with their second amendment sanctimony? Never mind what the framers of the Constitution actually meant and could never have anticipated.
We at the Council are committed to working with our like-minded partners to insure common sense legislation around gun ownership and will meet with them in the coming weeks to look for ways we might make progress together. Like our secular collaborators, we share concerns for the horrible ramifications of gun violence. But we are also called as followers of the Prince of Peace to work toward a national mindset where violence, however it is perpetrated, is rejected, and where the disproportionately accessible means to that violence are appropriately and reasonably conscribed.
For anyone interested in beginning the discussion within your faith community about walking a path to peace together, groups like Faiths United Against Gun Violence and Bishops United Against Gun Violence can offer resources.
Pray for Oregon.