My heart is heavy and broken this morning.
As I write this, I am watching the morning news coverage of the mass killings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. Nine people were killed in Dayton; twenty in El Paso. While the motive for the Dayton killings remains unknown at this time, police have confirmed that the El Paso shooter was a White Nationalist who drove 600 miles to that city with the intention of targeting Mexican people (El Paso is close to the southern boarder). He opened fire in Walmart, where families were doing their back-to-school shopping.
There was a time in my life when I was an Assistant District Attorney in a borough of New York City. I tried people accused of sex crimes and crimes against children. Every six weeks or so I wore a homicide beeper for 24 hours. It obliged me to respond to the scene of every homicide when the victim was still at the scene. I’ve seen death. I’ve seen the horrible things that people can do to each other on account of our human brokenness. And so, my personal opinion is that there need to be federal laws that restrict access to high capacity firearms of all kinds. I don’t believe that such restrictions are inconsistent with the Second Amendment. I believe that thoughts and prayers are useless without advocacy and action.
If you are a person who happens to not agree with this perspective, that’s okay. You need not hide your opinion simply because your pastor has spoken hers. But whether or not you agree with my position, I hope we will all, as people of faith, be able to lay aside political ideologies and agendas and shape our lives according to the teachings of the Jesus we profess to follow. The world cannot afford us bifurcating our existence – going to worship on Sunday and steering clear of living a committed life of discipleship the rest of the time. Our Sunday God is also our Monday through Saturday God, and he has much to say about those who perpetrate injustice by failing to protect against it.
We are at the beginning of our journey together. My prayer is that this weekend’s senseless massacres will motivate us to together seek the depth of meaning that the word of God has to offer and to commit ourselves to a radical form of Christian discipleship that pours the love of Jesus Christ over all.