When Will it End?

We again mourn the deaths of innocent young people who were focused on preparing for their future when they were gunned down on a sunny day at school. Ten more families left to grieve their loved ones and the dreams they had nourished for their lives. Thousands more to cry over friends killed or injured in the latest American school shooting. And all of us to seek to embrace them in our prayers as we feel another hit in our own sense of security and sanity.

Umpqua Community College now joins the list of school’s and other public places where violent young people took out their anger by shooting innocent victims. The initial reports paint a picture of a lonely, disturbed young man who may have disliked religion. Many of the mass shootings in our country involve two common elements–an alienated young man and easy access to guns.The shooting at my alma mater, Columbine, happened over 16 years ago. At that time I was sure that our country would do something to end such violence. Each time we have another mass shooting I think, now has to be the time. But it never is.

The first step we can take without waiting for politicians is to let our prayers for the victims open our hearts to all people in need. In particular, embracing those who have been marginalized by their own psyches or the scorn of others. We are all one human family and up to each of us to care for our neighbors in need. We need to reach out to young people who are nurturing such hate and anger and find a way for them to feel love and find the help they deserve.

We also need to work for gun safety. Not only to reduce mass shootings, but to reduce the many gun deaths each year. For the first time in history we now have more deaths by guns in the United States than by automobiles. When the death rates from car crashes was growing the country joined together to enact common sense regulations so that we may all feel safer on the roads. Licensing, inspections, insurance requirements, safety equipment–these have all been enacted without taking away any responsible person’s right to drive a car. Why can’t we treat guns in the same fashion? There are plenty of technological fixes and political reforms that could reduce the number of deaths by guns in our country.

These kinds of reforms seem so common sense. But common sense seldom prevails in our government. What we need is more religious sense.The religious sensibility to care for others as we wish to be cared for.

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