Pax Christi USA is stunned and heartbroken over the events which unfolded at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14. The deaths of 27 people, including 20 schoolchildren, are a loss so tragic and unspeakable that it is difficult to know what to say. For those of us who have children, our hearts are rent as we contemplate the grief of parents who only hours earlier that day were dressing and feeding breakfast to their little ones, kissing their foreheads, and hugging them good-bye as they boarded buses or were dropped off in front of their school. We are devastated by the sheer madness of it all.
And madness is the right word. From the deaths in Arizona in January 2010 (including the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) to the deaths in the movie theater in Colorado this past July to the deaths in an Oregon mall last week and now this—there exists a madness in our nation where we choose to sacrifice our children, our sisters, our brothers, our mothers and fathers instead of imposing limits on our right to bear arms. When will we awaken from this madness, this sickness that privileges our desire to own any type of weapon—without limit or restraint of any kind—over the safety and well-being of our children?
The issue at hand is not whether the Constitution gives us the right as citizens to bear arms. The issue is whether we as a society value our children enough to place common-sense, reasonable restrictions on that right. Common sense and reason are in short supply when one examines the laws in our country related to gun purchases and gun ownership. To push for increasingly relaxed restrictions on gun ownership, gun sales, the kinds of weapons available for purchase, and background checks to the point where such restrictions have no power to keep guns from landing in the hands of the mentally ill, emotionally unstable, developmentally immature, or blatantly criminal is simply irresponsible and ignorant. Such efforts to loosen restrictions at every opportunity—and the groups who encourage such efforts—are, in fact, complicit in the very violence that we see in this most recent tragedy in Connecticut.
Pax Christi USA therefore calls on people of good will throughout this nation to initiate a national conversation on gun violence and what we might do to help break our nation’s denial on the need for reasonable, common sense gun legislation. The children who died in Connecticut belong to all of us. The children of this nation are our responsibility. Let us create for them a society that values their childhood, that takes seriously their right to safety, and that places their well-being above the agenda of the radical gun lobby. It is an easy choice to make. And this moment has sadly made the importance of such a choice stark for us. Let us make the right choice.
In solidarity with all people who mourn this tremendous loss of their children and adults in the Newtown, CT community – we ask God’s healing presence on them and courage for ourselves to speak up to end the madness.