Robb Elementary was home to the 27th school shooting this year and the 119th school shooting since 2018 in our country. Houston, Uvalde, and Oxford; we have a problem!
My brother bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas writes, “What we have to offer is ourselves. We have received power to love and to resist hatred.”
We can respond to his call with integrity. As I see it, we don’t have a second amendment problem but a gun problem — too many guns and assault weapons that are too quickly accessible to people who shouldn’t have that sort of responsibility. Stringent universal background checks, red-flag laws, safe storage of guns, and a ban on assault weapons can safeguard our children, schools, and communities.
We are not the only country in this world with angry people or mental health issues. We are the only country with easy access to guns, including high-powered assault weapons so often used for mass shootings. In our state, firearms are now the #1 cause of death for children and youth. Suicides by firearm have reached record levels.
No one is safe when our children are regularly killed in schools by assault weapons. We have as many as four hundred million firearms in the United States of America. With that kind of access, the only reasonable protection in a civil society is stringent background checks. Most Americans — 90%, to be specific — are in favor of universal background checks before someone can buy a gun. It is that simple.
What we have here is a national health crisis! Our doctors, nurses, parents, and caregivers are overwhelmed by this human-made crisis. It is also a national security crisis when parents are terrified to send our precious children to school! Anyone running for public office who cannot protect the life of our children by subscribing to universal background checks is not qualified to serve.
Thoughts and prayers are as important as our actions. Prayers help us not become the very thing we’re trying to overcome. We cannot turn to anger, bitterness, and hate. We can keep our lawmakers accountable. On Holy Week this year, all three Michigan Episcopal bishops, ELCA Bishops, and over one hundred and forty followers of a loving God, lobbied in Lansing for some of these sensible gun laws to be established in our state.
We passed the second anniversary of George Floyd’s killing on May 25th. The pandemic of racism and the epidemic of gun violence must be addressed and are addressable regardless of one’s political party. I invite us to address them as followers of Jesus with compassion to protect our children from this chronic sickness in the soul of our country.
Here are a few steps you can take. Start with being kind to yourself and your neighbor. Breathe! Join End Gun Violence Michigan‘s Silence the Violence March on Saturday, June 4th in Detroit or local marches closer to you.
We have to keep the pressure, my beloved!
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh
The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan