A statement in response to the tragedy at Michigan State University
February 14, 2023 – Five years ago today, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the intervening years, efforts to address, interrupt, and end gun violence in the U.S. have been dismissed, ignored, and repeatedly blocked by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and politicians bought and paid for by the pro-gun lobby. The carnage, trauma, and death witnessed last night at Michigan State University have become all too common in the sad reality of the destruction wrought by an epidemic of mass shootings in this country.
We feel a familiar heaviness in having to write a statement such as this one once again. For more than two decades, Pax Christi USA, alongside numerous other organizations stunned and shaken by the repetition of lives lost to gun violence, has sought to appeal to the consciences of those in power to make these mass shootings a thing of the past. We have called for “a deep, sustaining and holy anger which will fuel a movement to end this insanity once and for all.” Our members have rallied to the banner of local and national initiatives aimed at mitigating the violence, addressing the root causes, supporting survivors, and implementing reasonable, common-sense policies regarding the sales and manufacturing of guns.
And yet we are blocked and frustrated at every turn by the NRA and politicians who value the money that flows from the gun lobby more than the lives of their constituents.
“In middle school, I was taught to use pens, pencils, and scissors as self-defense tools in case the impending threats of violence ever made their way into my school. Over a decade later, students are at even greater risks of danger due to the unregulated gun industry. To invest in the next generation of students, we have to make sure they have safe places to learn and develop so they can have a chance at creating change. We need schools where pens, pencils and scissors can be instruments of learning, not instruments of self-defense.”Lauren Bailey, National Field Organizer, Pax Christi USA
What remains is our grief, a grief expressed in Luke 23, when Jesus turns to the women of Jerusalem and laments, “Do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children.” A generation of parents and siblings, children and loved ones, have been marked by the tears they shed over those lost to mass shootings. Let us remember and mourn for those lost yesterday at Michigan State University, for their families and friends and all those stunned and anxious by the horror of this tragedy.
And despite the seemingly immovable obstacles we face in changing this culture, let us not lose our commitment to change those laws and policies which feed the greed of weapons manufacturers instead of the hunger of our children for safety. Let us continue working for public policies which promote and enhance nonviolent strategies rather than instruments of death. This year is the 60th anniversary of Pacem in Terris, John XXIII’s encyclical emphasizing that peace between all peoples must be based on truth, justice, love and freedom. Paragraph 54 reads, “The attainment of the common good is the sole reason for the existence of civil authorities.” Therefore, let us continue working for that day when these senseless tragedies end, when our elected leaders are more moved by the red of the blood spilled than the green of NRA donations.
Once again, Pax Christi USA pledges our solidarity with all those who have been traumatized by gun violence and we will continue to work alongside all who share our commitment to make the changes that will end this cycle of mourning.
Click here to download the Interfaith Gun Violence Prevention Toolkit, offered by DC Area Interfaith Gun Violence Prevention Network. Bob More of Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore was one of the team that created this toolkit.