In the past seven days there have been two mass shootings, one in El Paso, Texas and the other in Dayton, Ohio. Responses to the killings usually follow the same pattern: shock, anger, sadness and a plea that something needs to be done.
It’s fairly obvious what needs to be done, but any action to prevent another tragedy occurring usually runs into the ground. However, there is a moral danger in accepting that things will never change and that this is something that we will have to get used to. Last year I wrote an article in the church magazine calling for a change in our gun laws following the shooting in Parkland, Florida. I rarely venture into the political realm, but it was the death of children which spurred me to do so. I wrote the article from the point of view of an outsider. Here’s an excerpt:
“I’m not convinced by the argument that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ I come from a country where the last school shooting occurred 22 years ago. The lack of school massacres in Britain is not due to any lack of disturbed or angry people – there are just as many – but is simply down to Britain’s gun laws: it is very hard to buy a gun there.”
There was little response to my article from my congregation, apart from one parishioner – a member of the NRA – who left the church in protest. I told him that we could have different opinions and still worship together, but to no avail. It seemed as though my need to say something had simply resulted in the loss of one of our members.
However, as long as the killings continue, I will keep on saying it, unless someone can come up with a different solution. To accept the status quo for something which is periodically distressing for community and country and a calamity for innocent families strikes me as wrong. I grew up in countries where this sort of thing almost never happened, so I know there is another way.
By the way, if you disagree with me, tell me and we will go and have a drink and talk about it. If I write something here you disagree with, I don’t want you to think I won’t tolerate another view – we learn from each other by talking with each other. Sadly, in our current political climate, people have got used to being in their own political bubbles, and the tendency to demonize those with whom you disagree is a regrettable trend.
Christians can do something now, which is to pray for the friends and relatives of those who were killed. Their need for support is of primary concern. But after the event, you may consider writing to your congressman or woman and expressing your view on the need for change. Even a small change may make a difference. As I said in the closing words of my article last year…
“We draw our resolve and strength from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose love overcomes fear and gives comfort to those who mourn. May our prayers continue to be with those who have lost loved ones. But let us do something more: let us work together to bring about change, for the sake of our children and our children’s children.”
In the peace of Christ