This Is Not Normal
From mass shootings to suicides, gun violence has become so common that it’s become far too easy to normalize it. Mass shootings and other forms of gun violence ARE NOT NORMAL and we cannot afford, as a society, to treat them as such. Leading faith leaders share their thoughts on the latest horror, this one out of Jacksonville, Florida:

As a Floridian and as an American…I share a sense of sadness and heartbreak with millions of Americans about the latest mass shooting.

They happen so often that it’s tempting to simply resign ourselves to the status quo. But if we are silent when yet another mass shooting happens, we help normalize the absurdity and preventability of these shootings. Let’s make no mistake: these shootings are preventable. According to a recent report, the U.S. has had 57 times as many mass shootings as the other six G7 nations combined since 2009 (288+ compared to 5 total).

The NRA and its weapons dealers make a lot of money selling ever more guns and ammunition. But the rest of us experience loss after loss, tragedy after tragedy. That’s not fair, and that’s not right.

So let’s make a commitment. Every time another shooting happens, lets name the politicians — Republicans and Democrats — who take the most money from the NRA, starting with Richard Burr, Roy Blunt, Thom Tillis, Cory Gardner, and Marco Rubio in the Senate, and French Hill, Kenneth Buck, David Young, Mike Simpson, and Greg Gianforte in the House.

And let’s speak a simple message of truth to people in our social and social media circles: “If we work together, we can change the values, politicians, and laws in our country, so that we can become a less violent culture and more respectful of life.”

It begins with values, and that’s where our faith communities have a special role to play … not just “thoughts and prayers,” but an intentional and intense effort to inspire better values and teach a nonviolent way of life. — Brian McLaren (Author, Speaker, and Networker)

I’m going to say their names…Elijah Clayton. Eli. Trueboy. 22-years old. Erin’s boy. Easygoing. Fun. Cool. Full of Laughter. Calabasas High School football player.

Taylor Robertson. SpotMePlzzz. 27-years old. From Ballard West Virginia. James Monroe High School football player. Quiet family man. Husband and father to a toddler, a son.

They are dead. Eleven more are injured. Because on Sunday, August 26, a man with a gun opened fire in a crowd.

And, after a Raines High School football game on Friday, August 24, 19 year-old Joerod Jamel Adams was killed and two students, one from Raines and one from Lee High School, were injured. First reports were that the two boys had criminal gang connections. Maybe that’s why it’s hard for me to find much on Joerod.

But I’m saying his name, too. Joerod Adams. Leroy Murphy’s grandson. Somebody’s baby, boyfriend, buddy. Shot dead. His grandfather insisting he’s not in a gang, pleading for someone to come forward. Someone had to see and, with 57 police at the game, how did this happen anyway?

Let’s say their names, and let’s talk about the guns. If guns are easily obtained, mass shootings will continue to happen. If guns proliferate our streets and communities, disputes and conflicts will lead to death. Lives of children, teens, men and women will be lost. They will be killed by disgruntled employees, relatives, partners, and spouses. They will be killed in turf wars, in retaliation, in acts of domestic violence, and by accident.

People with guns kill people. Mothers, fathers. Sons, daughters. Children and Seniors. Lovers, spouses, partners, friends. People with stories, vulnerabilities; dreams and ambitions; fears and insecurities.

More than thoughts and prayers, we need to make common sense gun safety an election issue. Now. If our electeds can’t stand up for human lives, we need to vote them out.

For God’s sake, find your Gun Sense candidates here.

In the name of Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Oak Creek, Charlotte…In the name of Jacksonville, Chicago, New York…

In the name of life. —  Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis (Senior Pastor, Middle Collegiate Church)

Guns are not alien to me…As a little girl visiting my grandparents in rural North Carolina, I knew there was the loaded shotgun in the corner of their bedroom at the ready for whatever need might arise. One of my earliest memories is seeing my grandfather shoot the head right off a rattlesnake with that gun.

But as a Christian faith leader, I see a false idol being made of the Second Amendment, as the NRA stirs up fears of The Government and The Other — whoever that might be —and gun violence that leads people to their deaths.

The latest Jacksonville shooting and so many preludes to it have jumbled the names of too many victims and too many shooters. We can no longer remember. The majority of Americans are coming to the conclusion that we now face a Deuteronomic choice in this country: We must choose not death, we must choose life!

Too many of our people, and most especially young ones — think Sandy Hook, Parkland, and now Jacksonville — are victims of a weaponized culture. Guns are not making them safe; they are not making us safe.

Americans must wake up. Help will not come from the current administration. It’s time for people in local communities to take the matter of gun safety into their own hands and vote in leaders who will champion sensible policies.

We must now choose life, so that we and our descendants can live. — Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson (President, Auburn Seminary)

Closing a summer of violence…from Chicago to Jacksonville, Americans are literally paying with their lives for congressional inaction. What will it take for elected officials to finally do the right thing?” — Rabbi Sharon Brous (Founding Rabbi of IKAR)

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