An American man has gone into a public place, this time a grocery store in Boulder, CO, and gunned down 10 people. This is not the first mass shooting of this young year. Nor is it the 10th. It is not even only the 100th, according to Gun Violence Archive. No one should be surprised that it has happened again.
We can say he is a lone wolf. In a hyper-individualized society of toxic masculinity and male entitlement, we raise all our boys to be lone wolves. In a society in which violence is normal and quotidian, in a society that tells us the only answer to a bad guy with a gun is further violence by a “good guy,” we cannot pretend surprise. We live in a society that believes in violence, that in fact believes violence is redemptive. We see images of the Second Coming of Christ in which Jesus appears armed and warlike! Violence is the way our society maintains the order of things, from erasing indigenous cultures and peoples, maintaining the racial hierarchy, upholding the patriarchy: violence is normal and even necessary.
A man who was sworn to protect and serve the people of Minneapolis is now on trial for murder there. Fifty years ago this week, a constitutionally-sworn officer of the US Army led his platoon on a wanton rampage in My Lai, Vietnam. Fifty-six years ago this month, state police officers sworn to protect the people of Alabama attacked peaceful marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Across our history, are all these men – and so many, many others - so wildly abnormal? If so, why are incidents of gun violence so ordinary?
We need tighter restrictions on firearms, no doubt. But there are so many firearms already available, in our neighbors’ hands, that we cannot simply rely on the passage and enforcement of new laws. Especially as many sworn law enforcement officers have said they will not uphold gun regulations.
The way forward is to create a new culture, a culture based on peace and solidarity. A transformation to create a world in which we can live on earth as it is in heaven. This is the task of the Church. That is why we must have a Christian voice in the movement against gun violence.
EPF is a part of this Christian voice, and we ask you to join with us. If you are interested in the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s initiatives on building peace in a violent world, please contact us.