As I write this the news of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton is still fresh. I suspect that like the other mass shootings, they will soon be pushed off the news by another one. They will be forgotten, except by those who were directly impacted. I heard a statistic about the number of people in this country who were directly impacted or have a friend or family member that has been directly impacted. It was horrifying (and of course I can’t find it now to reference in this post.)
It’s time to move beyond thoughts and prayers. Yes, it is a difficult, emotional conversation when we talk about what to do about these situations. We must find ways to address the issues while showing respect with those with whom we disagree. Here are some of the issues I think we need to address:
Us vs. Them Thinking
We are all children of God created in the image of God.
- Those who worship differently than we do are not terrorists.
- Those who are a different color are not dangerous.
- Those who have different political views don’t hate the country and are not the enemy. They are not stupid.
- Diversity is not a threat and does not weaken us as a country.
We talk about the importance of mental health care, yet are reluctant to fund it. It can be very difficult for people to get the help and support they need. There is a critical shortage of psychiatrists in many parts of the country. There is still a stigma to mental health treatment that results in people being reluctant to acknowledge mental health needs for themselves and/or family members. This is not the first disease to be stigmatized, and just as we have removed the stigma from cancer and various other conditions, we need to remove it from mental health issues.
All or Nothing Thinking
One of the arguments that is used to argue against any kind of gun legislation is that any regulation will lead to the confiscation of all guns. Much of the legislation being proposed is supported by the majority of gun owners.
- Closing the background check loophole that allows private and gun show sales without a background check
- Putting restrictions on military weapons.
- Limiting the size of magazines.
Acceptance of the Status Quo
It’s easy to think that there is nothing we can do to change things. Yet if we look at the history of our country, we see a very different story.
- Women campaigned and won the right to vote.
- Civil rights activists ended “separate but equal” and opened up voter registration. (Even though racism is still a challenge, we are ahead of where we were in the 1950’s.)
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving were successful in getting stricter drunk driving laws passed.
- Educate yourself about the issues. There are laws that have successfully reduced gun violence in other countries and other states.
- Write your legislators to express your views on the issue.
- Join groups addressing the issue. Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is a good starting place.
- Pray, not just for the victims and perpetrators of gun violence, but for the wisdom and courage to make a difference.