Commentary: Remember Sandy Hook with responsible gun laws

SandyHookLove_340.jpgViolence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders;
          you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. Isaiah 60:18

This week we mark the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Few will ever forget that day in Newtown, Connecticut when an obviously tormented young man, with a history of untreated psychological disorders, entered the elementary school and killed 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 years old and six adult staff, after killing his mother, and before killing himself.  There is no balm that will remove from our memories the horrors of that day.

Vigils will be held across the country to remember the victims. Collectively, we will mourn the deaths and the lost futures of all who were slain. We will hold our children tighter. We may question God, asking how could a loving God allow such violence in our midst?  Such questions and lament remind me of Isaiah 59, when the people cried out to God because of the violence and bloodshed in their land. The prophet Isaiah reminded them violence had not come at the hand of God, but rather the violence and bloodshed had come because the people refused to change their ways.

Sandy Hook is a tragedy that should never have been, yet, the possibility of similar tragedies lurk at the intersections of failed safety nets and irresponsible legislation all over this nation.  And although we lament and our hearts are filled with grief, we, as a nation, have not changed our ways.  In this year alone, more than 12,000 people have died from gun violence in the United States.  We have failed to enact responsible gun legislation that would prevent easy access to guns and limit the manufacturing of assault weapons. There are measures we can take, beyond crying out to God, to save ourselves.

Let us honor lives lost at Sandy Hook and all over this nation by increasing our calls upon our elected officials to do the right and just thing and pass responsible gun legislation. We must not become a nation driven to violence by fear. We cannot continue to place the lives of our children at risk under the false guise of protecting the second amendment while ignoring the framework of promoting the general welfare of all of our citizens. Let us press forward with greater resolve to remove access to guns from the hands of those who we know have a potential to do harm. Let us push forward because it is the only fitting way to pay tribute to those murdered.

The old school at Sandy Hook was demolished and a new school was erected in its place. It is well past time for this nation to stop protecting the gun lobby and build something new.  Let us do what we all know will change things.  In response to the cries of the people, the prophet Isaiah begins to envision a time when:

Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.

Let us imagine better. There is no pathway to peace that is paved with guns. Peace is only possible when the weapon we choose is love.

This week faith communities will observe the National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath. Check out these tools and ideas for engaging your congregation and consider how you can work to end gun violence in your community.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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