Like you I awoke Monday morning to the horrifying news of the senseless slaughter of innocent citizens in Las Vegas by a lone gunman, tremendously over armed with firepower that, in my mind, should not be allowed in the hands of anyone but our military and our police force. On that same morning I was scheduled to leave for a week of fellowship and bonding with several of our clergy in the mountains, and out of all TV or internet connections. I have to admit that part was a blessing. I have returned to find both, the debate I have come to expect, but also some of the same excuses and lack of courage on the part of our public officials. This tragedy is yet another stark reminder of the brokenness and violence that plagues our nation. I, like you, grieve yet again this tragic loss of life. My prayers go out to the hundreds of victims and their families and my heart breaks for those who have lost friends, family, and loved ones.
With shootings like this happening far too frequently, it’s easy to become numb and find ourselves paralyzed by inaction. However, we mustn’t give into the despair that tells us change is hopeless, futile, or vain. We must remain engaged with this issue of gun violence and demand that our government take action so that mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas never happen again. And we should not wait, as seems to be our human flaw so often, until such violence comes to our home, our family, our lives. That it has happened to any person in the human family should be reason, and in fact as a Christian, to call and demand our attention and action.
I’m not advocating for the end of gun ownership, but I am praying for a vigorous debate and action on common sense regulations which the majority of Americans favor.
We must also examine our own hearts and the violence that is embedded in our very culture – a culture that glorifies and celebrates violence. We must search ourselves and repent.
I have long been involved with Bishops United Against Gun Violence and would encourage you to read our joint press release and statement on this here, (http://bishopsagainstgunviolence.org/statement-from-bishops-united-against-gun-violence-following-the-las-vegas-shooting/) and then visit their website (http://bishopsagainstgunviolence.org/) for some practical ways we can each address this issue. I would also urge you to engage with Episcopal Public Policy Network for action on this and other issues. You can find their website here (http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/?0).
And I would direct you to an NPR piece which includes Bishop Dan Edwards of Nevada, and his excellent sermon at the service held at Christ Church, just off the Vegas Strip. The full script of his sermon and an audio recording can be found here (http://www.christepiscopallv.org/multimedia-archive/blessed-are-the-peacemakers-the-rt-rev-dan-edwards-bishop-of-nevada-oct-3-2017-service-of-healing-after-the-mass-shooting-in-las-vegas/).
Blessings and Peace,