Responding to Violence with Hope
Again last week, we heard news of a mass shooting in the U.S., this time on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. This tragedy claimed thirteen lives.
Have we forgotten other deadly shootings of recent years, pushed out of our awareness by the most recent story?
And these are just the ones that make the news. With a definition of “mass shooting” as four or more persons killed by guns in a single incident, there have been 294 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015 as of October 1, according to the website shootertracker.com. Some of these are premeditated acts, some random. But all end the lives of at least four of God’s precious children.
The issue of violence perpetrated with guns in the U.S. cries out for response from those of us who follow Jesus. No other nation has the same complicated relationship with firearms that this nation has. Finding solutions to reduce this tragic loss of life will be difficult, due to our unique story, our culture, and the current positions of the gun lobby.
Last month a small group of faith leaders in Duluth met to begin work on a local summit on gun safety. Besides mass shootings, lives are lost or damaged by use of firearms in the commission of other crimes, in gang warfare, suicide, and accidents. The summit, tentatively scheduled for next February, provides an organized means for beginning to respond systemically to the gun-related tragedies we experience daily in our country.
If you want to learn more about this effort, contact me at Pilgrim Church. When the date of the summit is set, we will help publicize it on this site. In the meantime, hold victims’ families in your prayers, and begin to educate yourself on this complex, critical issue and the wide range of possible actions to save lives (for example, this resource from the Episcopal Church: A Christian Response to Gun Violence). Together, we work for the Peaceable Kingdom.