Michael Brown. Sandy Hook. Trayvon Martin. Aurora. Columbine.
Within the last decade, the narrative of children and teenagers being killed by gun violence has become an all-too-familiar narrative in the American public sphere. In a recent report compiled by The Brady Campaign, statistics revealed that in 2011 alone, 19,403 children were shot and 2,703 children and teenagers lost their lives to guns.
That’s seven of America’s youth under the age of 20 killed every day.
In the book of Matthew, the disciples ask Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus calls a child to join the group.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” he answers.
If as Christians, children represent God’s creation in its most pure and innocent form, why is it that as Americans, we continue to let children die preventable deaths from gun violence? Gun control policies are a difficult discourse for the American public. Yet one thing we can all agree on is that children should not be killed.
Of the 2,703 children killed in 2011, 61 percent were homicides, 32 percent were suicides and 5 percent were unintentional shooting. These statistics propel gun-related deaths to the number two leading cause of death for youth in America.
Like many others, I was shocked to hear this morning about the mass killing in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater at the hands of (according to law enforcement authorities) suspect James Eagan Holmes — a 24-year-old California native and neurosciences graduate student at the Univeristy of Colorado in Denver.
Having recently moved from Colorado to Oregon, the Aurora shootings tapped into old feelings as I recalled the Columbine High School killings in 1999. My wife, Amy, was a youth minister at the time, and one of the girls who had previously been a part of her group had helped the Columbine killers buy their guns.
Then there was the attack at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. And now this.
It got me thinking about what all of the killers have in common, and for that matter, what they seem to have in common with many of the mass murderers at the focus of such tragic stories.