In ministry here in Harrisburg, in the past five years our congregation has lost eight sons—all murdered in cold blood. Gun violence is a national nightmare, experienced locally and felt personally by so many of us. It should be a Civil Rights issue of our day.
As our country asks how to protect itself from the terror of more mass shootings, elected leaders who call themselves Christian might look to the LGBTQ community for inspiration. Queer people have a weapon in our arsenal that no gun will ever defeat.
Here in Connecticut, we have learned about remembering those who have lost their lives because of senseless gun violence. An image, a phrase, a chance meeting, or a date on the calendar so easily brings back the profound tragedy of December 14, 2012, when Adam Lanza shot and killed first his mother, and then 20 school children, six adults, and finally himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
On the radio last week, I heard a police officer being interviewed about the shootings in his town of Roseberg, Oregon. He said something like, “We’re just in shock. Things like this always happen somewhere else, not in a town like ours.”
I was surprised to hear this. I take it for granted that, someday, a public shooting is going to happen in a town, school, or church near me, maybe at a time when I happen to be there.
As we know the shooting of Michael Brown was not just one incident, in one town. The reason that the fear and concern grew was because it was that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. It was the outcry of people who have been living under a system that has targeted young black men.
We had a week of frightening headlines as each day greeted us with a new horror. Yet, the chorus soothes my troubled soul as I inhale and imagine God filling me with peace in the midst of all those dreadful dispatches.