Last month we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, a feat that showed the human capacity for doing seemingly impossible things when we are focused and determined. Perhaps it helped that there wasn't much controversy in going for the moon, besides the financial costs, of course. So it makes me wonder why it is so hard for us to solve some of our most basic problems like gun violence. Why is it that the same country that was able to accomplish a lunar landing outpaces the rest of the nations in the world in gun deaths by the hundreds? Why does it feel like changing this reality is shooting for the moon - yes, pun intended, as poor as it is.
We have now crossed a sad line in 2019. We've had more mass shootings than days in the year. Last weekend El Paso and Dayton were added to the list. Of course, we pray for the families of victims, but I'm starting to feel like many outspoken critics who say, "Stop praying and start doing something to change things!"
As taken from our United Methodist Book of Resolutions, these are actions we are encouraged to support:
For United Methodist congregations to advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence. Some of those measures include:
- Universal background checks on all gun purchases
- Ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty
- Ensuring all guns are sold through licensed gun retailers
- Prohibiting all individuals convicted of violent crimes from purchasing a gun for a fixed time period
- Prohibiting all individuals under restraining order due to threat of violence from purchasing a gun
- Prohibiting persons with serious mental illness, who pose a danger to themselves and their communities, from purchasing a gun
- Ensuring greater access to services for those suffering from mental illness
- Establishing a minimum age of 21 years for a gun purchase or possession
- Banning large-capacity ammunition magazines and weapons designed to fire multiple rounds each time the trigger is pulled
- Promoting new technologies to aid law-enforcement agencies to trace crime guns and promote public safety.
2016 Book of Resolutions, #3428
Also, here is a great article from our UM News Service.
Locally, here are events in which you might want to participate: WE LIVE PEACE WALK, Saturday Aug. 10th, 10AM, Washington Park, 3130 E. 30th St., Indianapolis, and WE LIVE COMMUNITY DAY, Noon to 2PM, indoors at the Washington Park Family Rec Center. RSVP on Facebook to We Live, Inc. We Live is a local student led non-profit working to end youth violence.
If you wish to communicate with our elected officials to encourage their support of steps such as increasing background checks, you can do that here.
Some would say articles like this are getting political. But I share words straight from our Book of Resolutions above, to say that I simply want us to be faithful United Methodists. Ducking from controversy feels safe while sitting in my office, having to respond to emails and phone calls. But I'm more concerned about our safety when our kids go to school, or when we enter a Wal-Mart or go to a restaurant. Yes, we must pray. We pray for peace. We pray for those whose lives have been forever changed by violence. But we must also pray for courage to act.
May God bless America and make us brave enough to do what it takes to live free.