Charleston. Pittsburgh. Atlanta. Once more we have seen what appears to be the devastating result of racial hatred and our nation’s inability to address gun violence. A recent study by Stop AAPI Hate documents the rise in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders over the past year, marked by a pandemic which some of our leaders have not only politicized for their own agendas but racialized as well. It is in that context that we see clearly where fanning the flames of racism leads.
Everytown for Gun Safety documents the shootings yesterday in Atlanta as the third mass shooting this year in the United States and the 244th mass shooting since January 2009. And yet the carnage has yielded little to no movement from our elected leaders on sensible policies that the vast majority of people support to curtail the suffering that gun violence wreaks on families and communities with alarming frequency.
Too many statements today will note how ‘we are stunned and heartbroken’ and yet not lead to any significant change in our laws. Too many leaders will offer their ‘thoughts and prayers’ while tomorrow resisting any action that would mitigate the next round of offering ‘thoughts and prayers’.
The letter of James, 2:14-17, states the challenge for us in this moment clearly and unequivocally: “What good is it, my sisters and brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
There can be no tolerance of the race-baiting rhetoric that stokes the fire of hate crimes against communities of color. And while the offerings of ‘thoughts and prayers’ so easily and cheaply flow in politicians’ press releases and Twitter feeds, the true measure of the moment will be taken by what actions follow.
It should be a basic article of faith that we demand our respect for human life and dignity result in common-sense, reasonable restrictions on guns in our country. Pax Christi USA pledges our solidarity with all those who have been affected by gun violence and will continue to work alongside all who seek a world where no one suffers because of another’s armed hate. The grief that we share with all those affected by these deaths will be matched by our commitment to make the change that puts an end to these acts which lead to our mourning.
Click here to see past statements from Pax Christi USA related to gun violence and racial justice.