Mass shootings must stop

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

Nov. 10, 2017 at 3:36 p.m.

Jennifer Preyss

Jennifer Preyss   Victoria Advocate for The Victoria Advocate

There has been too much heartbreak this year; too many mass shootings and evil acts in sacred houses and too many tears shed from innocent, fearful eyes.

There have been too many times I watched the news thinking, "Oh, my God. Not again."

Sunday's mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, where 26 lost their lives including one unborn child, was the deadliest in Texas history, and the most recent mass shooting to sweep the nation.

So we're all on the same page, the Gun Violence Archive describes mass shooting as four or more being shot or killed in the same general time and location. The FBI describes a mass killing as three or more people killed in a public place.

To be sure, it's not a badge of honor any state wants to boast. Colorado, Arizona, Virginia, Nevada, California, Florida, South Carolina, Texas - the list of states afflicted by horrific mass killings goes on and on.

Every other month, it seems the news tickers read, "Deadliest shooting in U.S. history." And every time I see it, I think, "What will the next one look like? How many will die next time?"

This year also wears another badge of honor: The tally of mass shootings is already greater than last year, and we still have two months left until year's end. Already this year, 208 people have died at the hands of gunmen with murderous intent and too much access to military-grade weapons.

I am not an anti-gun person, but I can't look around at all the carnage without admitting there is a real problem, a problem, dear God, we need to address as a people.

The only other country in the world with the same number of mass shootings per capita - is Yemen. We are a society entirely unlike Yemen. We are the most progressive free land in the world, yet in this area, we are parallel to Yemen.

Something is not right about putting those two thoughts together.

And after Sunday's shooting, that's all I've been trying to do - put my thoughts together.

It's not simply about praying and pleading to God, although for sure this is needed for all the heartbroken and mourning members of the church.

It's not simply about discussing mental health deficits in our nation, although certainly that is also a field that seriously needs more support and resources.

We must also be willing to rationally and calmly discuss the issue at hand - the guns - for all of this mass shooting madness to change. We must be willing to put our political and emotional weapons down first and consider the lives lost, the babies dead and those who may lose their lives tomorrow.

We can kick and scream and rear-up; we can decry and spit on all the liberals who want to "take all the guns and corrupt one's right to bear arms." But none of this solves the problem. The problem that boxes us into a comparison with Yemen.

We need to stop attacking each other and solve a problem that needs desperately to be fixed. We need to talk about it and fix the real loopholes and cracks in our nation's gun purchasing and gun owning system because clearly there is an issue.

If that means creating a new department at the state or federal level dedicated to this task, I say let's do that. Because there is a problem. We can ignore it, politicize it, justify it for the next 100 years - but meanwhile, people will continue to die and more mass shooting gunmen will continue to rise up and take aim at our people.

It's not the majority of law-abiding, gun-owning citizens we need to be afraid of. It's the minority. It's the dangerous few.

We're all going to have to decide what's more important, where our loyalties rest. Because our people, our children and our peace of mind to attend public places is being slaughtered as each day passes. Every year, the numbers of mass killings and death count climbs.

And when a family can no longer attend church Sunday, or when a church must now be demolished because of its morbid and solemn attachment to a mass shooting in a house of God, we need to be willing to step up as a nation and fight for one another. We must be willing to defend those who were murdered, for those who will be murdered next time.

Because if we can't put down our political weapons first, these mass shootings will continue. And one day, they may show up in a church or public space near you.

My heart goes out to all of the victims and their families. May God continue to embrace you in your suffering.

Jennifer Preyss writes about religion. You can reach her at 361-580-6535, jenniferpreyss.com, or on Twitter @jenniferpreyss.


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