Monday, December 17, 2012

Stop the Violence

Sixteen mass shooting took place in the United States in 2012 resulting in 88 deaths (information from The Nation magazine). They were:

February 22nd – five people were killed at a Korean Health Spa in Norcross, Georgia.

February 26 – gunmen opened fire in a Jackson, Mississippi nightclub, killing one.

February 27 – three students were shot to death at a high school in rural Ohio.

March 8 – two people were killed at a psychiatric hospital in Pittsburg.

March 31 – two people attending a funeral were shot and killed in North Miami, FL.

April 2 – a former student killed seven people “execution style” at Oikos University in Oakland, California.

April 6 – two men went on a shooting spree targeting African American men in Tulsa, Oklahoma, killing three.

May 29 – in Seattle, Washington, a man opened fire in a coffee shop killing five people and then himself.

July 9 – three people were killed at a soccer tournament in Wilmington, DE.

July 20 – a man entered a movie theater in Aurora, CO, and killed 12 people.

August 5 – six people were shot to death in a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, WI.

August 14 – three people, including a police officer, were shot and killed at Texas A & M University.

September 27 – in Minneapolis, MN, a man shot and killed five people at his former work place, then killed himself.

October 21 – three people were shot to death at a spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin; the gunman then killed himself.

December 11 – two people were killed at a mall in Portland, Oregon.

December 15 – 26 people, mostly children, were shot and killed at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut; the shooter’s mother was killed at her home; the shooter committed suicide.

We who are followers of Jesus Christ, who love God and live to do God's work in this world - what will we do in response to these killings? We must respond, not just with an expression of sympathy or an official statement naming these as tragedies, but with ourselves - our bodies, our minds, our efforts, our words and our actions.

I believe two things must be done in our nation to curtail these horrifying occurences. First we must provide comprehensive and excellent mental health care to all people who need it. That could get expensive to us as a society, but the cost is worth it to prevent more deaths like those listed above. Those who shoot innocent people for no reason are not well. I say that not to excuse their behavior but to underscore that providing mental health care to all is necessary if we are to have a safe society.

The second thing we must do is ban the sale of any and all rapid-fire guns in the United States. No one needs a rapid fire weapon to protect him/herself or to hunt, and those are the only reasons a person needs to own a gun. Guns do not necessarily keep a person safe. The mother of the shooter in Connecticut owned the guns that were used to kill her; they did not protect her life from danger.

The violence must stop. What will you do? What can we do together? We cannot be silent, we cannot fail to act any longer. Let's work together to stop the violence.

Pastor Kris Franke Hill, stm.