Yesterday, I did not go into a rant about gun control in this country. Today, after the shock of the Orlando nightclub mass shooting has worn off, reality has paved a path of extreme sadness and anger. What happened is unacceptable on so many levels. My heart goes out to the LGBT community, you are all invaluable members of this society and deserve to be treated as such. I am outraged that any civilian in this country is still able to obtain and possess an automatic assault weapon. How many more innocent people have to be senselessly killed? When do we finally say enough is enough?
When the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place I was running an after school program for children in Pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st grade. I heard about the tragedy just before picking the kids up from school. The relief I felt upon seeing each child, safe, at the end of the school day, laughing, running, and playing on the playground overwhelmed me. I remember thinking, “This! This is going to change gun control laws in this country forever!” I was wrong. Congress and the senate have declared that the money they receive from the NRA is more valuable than the lives of innocent Americans, as demonstrated by the lack of gun control policy change after every mass shooting in this country over the last decade. This is America, where the freedom to receive an education, worship as you please, go to the movies, go to nightclubs, and love whomever you choose can all be taken from you by someone firing an automatic weapon in the places we have been taught are safe.
I am not anti-gun. I know many people who grew up with guns, who hunt, who enjoy going to firing ranges in their spare time. While I do not care to ever own or fire a gun, I do not believe they should be banned. I do not agree that those with mental illnesses should be banned from obtaining fire arms if they so choose. I have worked in the mental health field and we cannot take away the rights of a large portion of our population because of a few very sick individuals. I do believe that the current laws in place do not keep the citizens of this country safe. And more guns is not the answer because no armed civilian has stopped or prevented a mass shooting thus far.
Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. Candlelight vigils are not enough. I do not say this to be crass. I lit a candle last night and am holding all those affected by the tragedy in my thoughts and prayers, but that is not enough. As one of my friend’s eloquently posted on Facebook, this is a, Jesus take the wheel time. Jesus is whatever you believe in, it is not limited to the Christian interpretation of Jesus. Jesus is not, however, judgmental or bigoted. Nor does Jesus believe fallible humans have a right to impose their beliefs on others. Jesus is love and compassionate social action to ensure that all humans are safely protected. Jesus is opening our hearts and our minds to stretch beyond what is comfortable…to include everyone.