On America's Gun Problem: We Need More Talk, Prayers, and Action


239 school shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012.

Earlier this week, a 19-year-old took an AR-15 into a high school and gunned down 17 people in the hallways and on the school grounds.

John Cassidy in The New Yorker describes the hideous use of this assault rifle in this context, “When fired from close range at civilians who aren’t wearing body armor, the bullets from an AR-15 don’t merely penetrate the human body — they tear it apart.”

These are young adults, teachers, real flesh and blood people, God’s image-bearers—murdered.

This could have been any one of us.

It could very well have been all of us.

This can happen anywhere now. A movie theater, an elementary school, a high school, a college campus, a nightclub, a bank, a concert, a church.

No one is safe from a mass shooting in America.

And it's not just guns! People are using rented vehicles to kill people made in God's image (Remember that in New York?).

So. Sick. Of. This.

Lord, have mercy on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

Lord, have mercy where bullets are flying and people are dying.

Lord, have mercy on those in places of authority, and on all of us, to find solutions that work toward minimizing mass murder. That preserve life. To find solutions that show people that they have worth; that human beings have value. Help us strategize to better keep the peace.

These shootings are too common.

They're too frequent.

They're not stopping.

Two hundred and thirty-nine school shootings since Sandy Hook six years ago! That doesn’t include all the other types of mass shootings in other public places (movie theaters, churches, malls, etc.) that we’ve all heard about or witnessed firsthand. 

Lord, I pray for those who are thinking about killing others. Stop them now. Keep them from pulling the trigger. Show them a better way.

Anyone else really PO’d right now? Anyone else sick of this problem? Anyone else been praying for, not a utopia (Come, Lord Jesus for that!), but for ways that we, as citizens, and as a nation, can do better? Anyone?

Because we can do better. We have an obligation to protect our children in this country. We are failing at this.

Yes, I realize our country is not the only country to experience mass shootings in school settings. Yes, I am aware of the fact that ultimately, we cannot stop and prevent all human evil on this planet without basically wiping out the human race (As some philosophers like to talk, this would be the solution to human violence—I obviously disagree. And believe that God himself will wipe away not every human, but every "tear.") 

But there has to be more that we can do in our country because we do have more guns per capita than other countries. I grew up in the sticks and shot my first shotgun at the age of 8 or 10. I remember shooting guns throughout childhood into early adulthood, and as an adult, I’ve been to shooting ranges. I’ve been exposed to the proper use of guns and been around folk who love guns and use them correctly and safely. At the same time, there’s obviously a lot of misuse happening and this is our American fault and problem. It’s not just happening “just because.” We’re all complicit by our inaction. By our failure to do something different that could prevent this from happening so often.

Seriously, aren’t you feeling numb to it all by now? We hear about mass shootings too frequently (how many times now in 2018, and we’re only in the month February!?) 

Like all societal problems, this is going to be very complicated to solve.

Perhaps we’re not disciplining children well enough, there’s a widespread parental failure and it’s producing unhinged people who wish to rain death upon us all. Perhaps we don’t have enough protection for children who attend public schools. Maybe we need to have more law enforcement in place around public facilities. Perhaps we could mobilize teachers to conceal carry and receive training to have a better plan of defense in place to protect children and students under their care. Perhaps we do have too loose of gun control laws in our country and we need to finally make some long-needed changes. Maybe we should consider the fact that we have a mental health crisis in this country and should be doing a lot more to help those of us who suffer with mental health issues.

Perhaps there are a lot more maybes. But we need more talk. We can't simply tweet about it for one minute or post on social media, and then go on our merry way. More talking about this on a national level needs to happen. More research and investigation needs to happen into many facets of this gun epidemic. 

I don’t know what we could do, but we have a host of more things that we can do and more people can be doing them. As a Democrat or a Republican, there are policy changes and specific action plans that we are capable of doing. It is possible.

We can do more. We can do better. But we have to start thinking less about our political party platform and more about the people whom we have been called to serve and protect—people who are dying in hallways and on public school property. Think of all the people, then legislate policy. 

In addition to talking more as citizens and talking with our votes, I hope politicians on either side of our polarized spectrum will act, and not simply Tweet or demonize the other side. Shifting blame won’t prevent more deaths by bullets. Let’s not just talk, or just pray, but prayerfully and thoughtfully act. It’s time that we change something. It’s time that we protect somebody. 

I’m just a pastor, so I don’t have the answers to the problem of gun violence in our country. Nor is it specifically my job to fix it. As a citizen, I have opinions and intend on voting and speaking to those I know who hold public office and to those who represent my district about this issue. We citizens—we the people—should be exercising our responsibility, or right, or priveledge (however you like to think of it) to vote and express great concern for this problem. And all of you politicians out there, this is your full-time calling in this life so please, start to do something about this. Let's help our children together. 

My advice to my parishioners and action this week for myself is to pray for the hurting families of these names:


















The names of these and the names of hundreds more who have died and who will die by stray bullets cry out to every citizen in this country to talk, to pray, and to take action. This doesn't have to be America's problem anymore.


For more theological angles on this topic, please see:

After Las Vegas: How Christianity Helps Us Deal with Suffering

Gun Control and Jesus 


Nicholas Davis

Rev. Nicholas Davis is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America.

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