Commentary

Wisdom doesn’t always rest with the oldest among us. Although the average age of our Congressional leaders is about 60, they continue to make unwise decisions regarding gun safety in our nation.

Fortunately, the young people who survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., are boldly and brilliantly leading the charge in preventing more mass shootings like the one they lived through. Lawmakers ought to be taking notes.

Last week, Gov. Rick Scott signed bill into law that raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm to from 18 to 21 — and also allows some teachers to be armed.

Students in Parkland and in schools across the country deserve more. They deserve a bill that bans assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and strengthens background checks.

Today, thousands of our youth across the nation are walking out of their classes in solidarity with the victims and survivors of Parkland to say never again.

The Parkland survivors are taking the lead in one of the most important movements of our time, and as as a pastor, I am compelled to stand in solidarity with them. Lawmakers should be echoing their call to ban assault weapons, expand background checks, and not arm teachers.

I respect the right to own a gun for sport, but when the sport becomes hunting the lives of our children of God, I cannot sit idly by.

Scripture calls us to do the things that lead to peace. Why then do we choose the path of violence?

According to the Census Bureau and Gun Violence Archive, from Jan. 1, 2017-Nov. 5, 2017, there were 307 shootings in which four or more people were injured or killed.

In this moment where senseless acts of evil continue to plague our nation, I implore lawmakers to follow the leadership of Parkland survivors and pass faithful common-sense gun laws that don’t put our children in more harm.

We can all agree, regardless of lawmakers’ positions on preventing gun violence, that weapons of war should never be in the hands of civilians. You can’t have your hand on your neighbor’s back when your finger is pulling a trigger.

It’s time Congress listens to its citizens. Data shows that 97 percent of Americans support universal background checks for all gun buyers, and yet lawmakers have done nothing to expand them. Lawmakers must hear the cries of families whose children were lost to insensible violence as their own.

As a person of faith, I believe in the life-changing power of prayer. But that cannot be the sole solution from lawmakers in the wake of an endless from of senseless massacres. Can we claim to follow God when our solution to violence is more violence?

More than 1,500 faith leaders have signed a moral declaration that says, “We cannot legislate the end of murder, but we can effectively restrict access to the instruments that steal lives with the greatest of ease every day. Congress must do its part to stop the tragedy of gun violence that ravages our nation.”

The survivors of Parkland shooting don’t wear capes. They don’t have special powers. Some of them ride on schools buses, eat lunch in a cafeteria, and have dedicated their lives to justice. Our elected officials should follow their lead.

The Rev. Jennifer Butler is CEO of Faith in Public Life. Follow her on Twitter at @RevJenButler.

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"What Lawmakers Can Learn From the Stoneman Douglas Shooting Survivors"
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