Christians are deep into the Lenten season. At worship in our church, the recurring theme has been, “Again and Again.” It is a reminder as we prepare for Easter Sunday that God’s grace is extended to us—and that we are called to respond to that grace—over and over again.
Hearing the news this week about the seemingly random mass shooting in a Boulder, Colorado shopping center—following within days of the targeted killing of Asian American women outside Atlanta—sadly paves the way for endlessly repetitive commentary describing our inhumanity towards one another. In a society run amuck in random violence, racism, isolation, and utter disregard for human life we cling to our second amendment right to bear arms as if it is a sacred and inviolate trust eclipsing all other societal responsibilities.
I am genuinely at a loss for what to say.
No other country experiences this level of gun violence. Why can’t we pass laws that tighten loopholes in background checks? Why can’t we outlaw assault weapons and high-volume magazines? The same old tired arguments against common sense gun laws are replayed (again and again) and the same old insipid arguments against changing these laws seem like recycled footage from a bad, decades-old movie.
And yet, it seems we are again headed for the same impasse that has plagued us for more than a generation. As Annie Karni and Catie Edmondson report in The New York Times, “while polling regularly shows broad support for tighter gun laws and specific policies like a ban on assault weapons, Republicans in Congress remained all but immovable on the issue, repeating longstanding arguments on Tuesday that gun violence should be addressed through steps like more policing rather than limiting gun rights.
‘There’s not a big appetite among our members to do things that would appear to be addressing it, but actually don’t do anything to fix the problem,’ said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican.”
This is a recipe for inaction. It is counterintuitive, frustrating and inaccurate to believe that common sense gun laws—like drunk driving laws or seat belt laws or laws that prohibit smoking in public places—do not save lives. How can it be argued that the second amendment gives individuals the right to assault weapons designed for theatres of war as both mass shootings and the constant drumbeat of under-reported gun violence in so many neighborhoods continues unabated?
Yes, spring has come. Yes, increasing numbers of Americans are being vaccinated. Yes, Easter is approaching. It is the season that, for Christians, reveals God’s greatest gift to the human family: in the resurrection of Christ, we are assured that even the bonds of death have no permanent power over us. And yet, again and again, we are reminded that in the mundane world in which we live day-by-day—at shopping centers or synagogues, movie theatres or mosques, concerts or college campuses—there are those who would indiscriminately do us harm. And for them, picking up a gun can be as easy as buying a blender. We must find a way for this to stop.