Adding to Our Litany of Lament - Word&Way

Adding to Our Litany of Lament

On Monday (March 27), gunfire erupted at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, run by a Presbyterian church. Soon, three 9-year-old children were dead, along with three adults who worked there and the shooter.

On April 15, 2021, a teenager entered a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, and opened fire. He killed eight people and injured seven others before committing suicide.

On March 22, 2022, a man walked into a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, killing 10 people and injuring one other.

On May 14, 2022, a man who espoused White Supremacy walked into a supermarket in a predominately-Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, and started shooting. He killed 10 people and injured three others.

On Oct. 27, 2018, a man who posted antisemitic comments online, entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, during Shabbat morning services and opened fire. Eleven people were killed, and six others injured.

On July 20, 2012, during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, a man set off tear gas grenades and opened fire into the crowd, killing 12 and injuring 70.

On Dec. 2, 2015, a married couple attacked a San Bernardino County (California) Department of Health event, killing 14 people and injuring 22. They later injured two police officers during a shoot-out in which they both died.

On Feb. 14, 2018, a teenager walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and opened fire. Fourteen students and three staff members were killed, and 17 others were wounded.

On May 24, 2022, a teenager entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 students (ages 9-11) and two teachers. The shooter also injured 17 others before being killed by police.

On Aug. 3, 2019, a man who wrote an anti-immigrant manifesto targeted Latinos in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. He killed 23 people (including a teenager) and injured another 23 (including two children).

On Nov. 5, 2017, a man walked into First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and opened fire during a Sunday worship service. He killed 26 people, including eight children and an unborn child. He also wounded 22 others before killing himself.

On Dec. 14, 2012, a man killed his mother in Newtown, Connecticut, before heading to Sandy Hook Elementary School. There he killed 20 children (ages 6-7) and six staff members. He wounded two others before killing himself.

On June 12, 2016, a man opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and injuring 58 others. The shooter died as he fought police.

On Oct. 1, 2017, a man opened the window of his hotel and fired more than 1,000 bullets in 10 minutes into a crowd below attending a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. He killed 60 people and injured 867. He then killed himself.

Those are just 14 deadly mass shootings in recent years that involved assault rifles like the AR-15. Just as some churches today sponsor “Stations of the Cross” walks where people stop at 14 places to reflect on Jesus’s journey from where he was condemned until he was placed in the tomb, we could mark our nation and communities with spots to reflect on the plague of gun violence. We’ve created our own bloody stations of the cross we could travel to reflect on violence and death. But that might inspire us to actually do something to become the answers to our thoughts and prayers. So instead, when another shooting occurs, we just add it to our sad litany and move on.

Nashville, Tennessee. The Covenant School. Seven dead (including the perpetrator), one injured. Christ, have mercy.

A family lays flowers at a memorial at the entrance to The Covenant School on March 29, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Wade Payne/Associated Press)

In the aftermath of yet another mass shooting, we see two basic responses. So this issue of A Public Witness considers the two main ways political and religious leaders are reacting to gun violence, one that is killing us and one that imagines a better world.


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