A judge sentenced Travis McMichael to life in prison on Aug. 8 for committing federal hate crimes in the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man shot while jogging through a mostly white Georgia neighborhood in a case that probed issues of racist violence and vigilantism in the United States.
While reducing the prevalence of guns in our society is essential, I am wary of religious gun control efforts that focus primarily on federal gun legislation because laws ultimately rely on frameworks of punitive justice, criminalizing anyone who breaks the law. A holistic approach to gun violence should imagine new alternatives for a safer society — alternatives that go beyond the criminal legal system and gun control laws. To imagine these alternatives, we can turn to the lessons of the transformative justice movement, which seeks to address violence without relying on state violence, police, or prisons.
The protesters gathered to raise their voices for gun control and lament gun violence three days after a gunmen killed 21 people in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
“I hate, I despise your vigils,
and I take no delight in your school shooter drills.
Even though you offer me your thoughts and prayers,
I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your collection plates
I will not look upon.”
It has been hard to read any of what has been written about the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. At some point, you start to wonder if we have convinced ourselves that words speak louder than actions.
Her thoughts on guns didn’t immediately change; slowly — as the PTSD and long-term effects of her injuries continued — Schumann began to question the narratives around guns she had grown up with her entire life. Now she’s asking others to join her in questioning the stories we’ve been told about gun violence in the United States.
With each new instance of gun violence, creation cries out with the victims. Creation also helps us center ourselves in relation to God when God feels absent.
This year has been difficult beyond description for so many people. While the COVID-19 pandemic has understandably occupied front pages across the country and around the globe for much of the past six months, another destructive wave continues to fester, creating so much pain and grief: our national plague of gun violence, which claims 100 lives a day. Together, the two crises have become a toxic combination.
“MY BROTHER WAS killed in 2007, and I watched my mom avoid that area for years. When there’s a space where someone has been murdered, you can feel the toxic energy in that space. And I realized there are these toxic holes being left around Baltimore, and it shouldn’t be that way. When people are murdered, the space should be sacred ground—where they lost their lives to violence. Just like the Bible talks about the blood crying out from the ground when Cain killed Abel, when blood cries out we should show up to answer with love and with light, honoring that person.
We ask people facilitating rituals to show up with love in their body. Grief is okay, some sadness is okay, but mostly a feeling of joy at how much this person meant to the world, love for the neighborhood, and compassion for their family and loved ones.
We must carefully observe and acknowledge that many black and brown people consistently witness the senseless deaths of individuals at the hands of racists, supremacists, and those inflicting direct harm on Christian and non-Christian houses of worship.
LIKE MANY PEOPLE, I have spoken out more times than I can count under the literal and metaphorical banner of “Silence Is Violence,” my voice growing louder and louder in the past several years.
Yet recently, on one matter, I found myself having fewer words, not more. Gun violence rendered me mute.
The death counts that rise in real time. The fact that before we have comprehended one shooting, another has occurred. The relativizing of value and shifting calculus of loss we have begun to accommodate this “new normal.” The reality—contrary to what one would think based on media attention and political rhetoric—that mass shootings account for less than 2 percent of U.S. gun violence (suicides, by contrast, account for nearly 66 percent).
It’s not much to make 100 stoles when up to 100 people die each day in this country from gun violence.
“Amor Eterno,”or Eternal Love, was written in 1984 by the famed Mexican singer and song writer Juan Gabriel, or JuanGa, after his mother passed away. It has become a standard that is played at funerals, wakes, get-togethers, and even restaurants across the U.S., Mexico, and the world to remember family and loved ones who have passed away.
Some Latinx people have known — and others have suspected — this land is not safe for us, but the extent to which that suspicion has been confirmed in El Paso is terrifying. The perpetrator in this massacre was deliberate in his plan to counter the “Hispanic invasion.” It’s tempting to believe all this has been incited by the current president’s violent rhetoric. But while that rhetoric has added much fuel to the fire, the fire has been burning for a long time.
IN THE WAKE of the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier this year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seamlessly incorporated Muslim rituals into the public rites of grieving. Her response to the attacks was striking for its cultural competence in engaging Muslim tradition and also projecting it in ways that engaged a broader audience to build empathy and not further structural violence. It allowed for immediate national unity and rehumanizing of the Muslim community.
The prime minister’s response to the violent attacks in New Zealand pointed out the importance of extending interreligious education to state actors.
"The reactions are full spectrum from shock to upset to being angry, but not angry at what I'm doing, angry at the stark fact that this could be a reality," the artist, who does not reveal his real name, said in an interview on Monday.
The news on Friday was devastating: There had been yet another mass shooting, this time in Virginia Beach, and 12 people were killed. Many of us had the same painful reactions of grief for the families, fear that this could happen to someone I love one day, anger at the gun manufacturers whose influence through the NRA makes them complicit in both the mass shootings and the daily epidemic of gun violence.
I had worked with so many patients and families who had suffered trauma and crisis, especially families who had lost someone to senseless gun violence, but it appeared my training didn’t come into play for myself. I walked around my apartment, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, in agony. Then my chaplain hat popped up. I told myself, “Sharon, you know hours of waiting to hear news about someone usually means the patient is dead.” The reality of it all was shattering.