After Sandy Hook, we said “never again” — and then the shootings at Emanuel Church happened in Charleston. Then we said “never again” — and then 50 people in Orlando were killed in the deadliest massacre in U.S. history. (Not to mention the shootings that happen every day across the country that now barely merit a headline.)
What will it take? How many more people will be murdered before our laws change?
The shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS, but don’t let that confuse you; our own ridiculous and inadequate laws enabled this mass murder.
The shooter legally purchased an AR-15 assault rifle (the same style of weapon used at the Aurora theater and at Sandy Hook) about a week before the massacre even though he had been interviewed by the FBI twice for statements made supporting terrorist activity. Surely even the most staunch gun rights advocates can’t argue that someone with terrorist sympathies should not be legally allowed to purchase an assault rifle. Surely our right to be a card-carrying member of the NRA doesn’t trump the rights of people who should be able to enjoy a night out without the fear of being murdered.
This is not about gun control. This is about protecting innocent people who lose their lives because we fail to take action in the face of a clear, deadly pattern.
This weekend across North Carolina, religious institutions will provide a platform for education and discussion about reasonable gun regulation and safety. Stand Up Sabbath is coordinated by the North Carolina Council of Churches and offers informational material to churches, synagogues, and mosques to sponsor dialogue among their members.
In support of their call for change, Stand Up Sabbath offers these facts:
- The frequency of mass shootings in the U.S. has tripled since 2011.
- The rate of firearm deaths for children younger than 15 is almost 12 times higher in the U.S. than in the other 25 leading industrialized nations combined.
- In domestic violence situations, women are 500% more likely to be killed if their abuser has a gun.
- States with waiting periods to purchase firearms have 51% fewer gun suicides.
So my challenge to you (and myself) is to say “never again” make empty promises for change. This week we passionately change our Facebook profile picture filters, and “like” posts by friends in same-sex relationships, and light our public buildings with the colors of the rainbow — but all of that means nothing if we don’t initiate real change. Laws must change. The gun lobby, in its misplaced effort to protect the Second Amendment, has created an insane infrastructure for history to repeat itself. People are dying. Children are dying. It’s easy to shout about this on social media, but enough is enough. I need to be able to look my children in the eye and know we’re making a change. It is time.