Friday, October 2, 2015

Pax Christi USA Statement on the Shooting Massacre
at Umpqua Community College in Oregon

To read this statement online,  click here.

It is impossible for anyone to be stunned anymore when the media reports another shooting massacre in our country. It is a profoundly sad reality that gun violence, like the shooting which occurred at an Oregon community college yesterday, is now so commonplace that it is difficult to remember and recall all of the mass shootings which have taken place in our nation over the past few years. It is time that we shake off our collective lethargy and root ourselves in a deep, sustaining and holy anger which will fuel a movement to end this insanity once and for all.

Every single death from Sandy Hook to Charleston to Oregon could have been prevented if our nation implemented reasonable, common-sense policies regarding firearms. This is a plain and indisputable fact; any debate on this point is an insult to our children, our parents, our sisters, brothers and neighbors who have died as a result of efforts to frustrate any limits placed on guns and the sale and manufacturing of firearms.

Today let us grieve with those families who lost their loved ones in yesterday's massacre. Let us feel the full force of that grief today, but tomorrow let us turn that grief into a righteous anger that will propel us past all of the obstacles that stand in the way of ridding our nation of the violence attributed to our easy acceptance of gun culture. Let us remember each and every victim as we confront the mostly tone-deaf leaders of the National Rifle Association. Let us remember each and every victim as we confront politicians greedy for the donations that come from the radical gun lobby. Let us remember each and every victim as we challenge every single institution that financially benefits from our nation's addiction to guns. Today we grieve, we mourn with all those affected directly by the tragedy at Umpqua Community College. But tomorrow we organize and mobilize and demand that what happened in Oregon yesterday never happens again.

As we wrote in our statement in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, "We are devastated by the sheer madness of it all." The madness that continues to frustrate even the most common-sense limits placed on firearm sales and ownership. The madness that grips our elected leaders when they are more concerned about the green of donations for their campaigns than they are about the red of the blood spilled from the people they are elected to serve. The madness that such events can occur in our nation with alarming frequency because our outrage at such tragedies fades long before we have accomplished what needs to be done to assure it never happens again.

It is time to reform our culture. It is time to turn away from the idolatry we practice toward our weapons. It is time to value life--the lives of all those affected by gun violence--more than we value our guns. The choice is that stark. As it reads in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 30, verse 19: "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live..."

Every time our nation experiences a tragedy like the one that occurred in Oregon, the choice is put before us again: Life or death, blessing or curse. We cannot continue to choose death and curse. Let each of us commit ourselves to the choice of life and blessing. And let us be committed to do whatever it takes to force our elected leaders to do the same.


Now is the time to take action and raise our voices to end gun violence in our nation. Consider taking one of these actions in the days to come:
  1. Use this statement as a template and write a letter-to-the-editor to your local newspaper. Or use it to craft your own opinion piece and submit it to your local paper.
  2. Post a link to this statement on your social media account (Facebook, Twiiter, etc.) Here is a direct link to the statement to cut and paste:
  3. Use this statement as a template or script for a letter, email or phone call to your representative in support of reasonable, common-sense legislation focused on ending gun violence in our country. Keep your eyes open for legislation focused on ending gun violence in the days ahead and make sure to contact your elected representatives and encourage their support. 
  4. Incorporate this statement into your parish or faith community. Provide your pastor with a copy and encourage him to preach on this issue at Sunday's Mass. Ask that the statement be added as an insert to the bulletin, or submit excerpts from the statement for your weekly bulletin and ask parishioners to pray for the victims. Submit a prayer of the faithful for the victims and for an end to gun violence.
  5. Plan a vigil or public prayer service in your community calling for an end to gun violence, or join one already being planned. Read this statement as part of that service.