LETTER: Epidemic of gun deaths is a spiritual problem


In his letter last week, Mike Corbett is thoughtful in advocating gun safety measures that don’t take guns away from people. He observes that there are numerous things we can do as a nation to reduce gun deaths without unduly restricting gun ownership.

While I admire his concern not to infringe upon the rights of others, I have a different concern. As a pastor, I think of the epidemic of gun death in the USA as a spiritual problem. I mean that many people seem to have a misplaced trust in guns and in violence to provide their security. The fact that the USA has the most guns per person and leads the developed world in gun deaths (suicide and homicide) is a symptom of a deeper problem.

We cannot solve problems of human relations with threats, punishment, and violence. Arming more people will not bring peace and security. It will bring more death. There are laws that can prevent some deaths, enforce responsibility, and promote safety. But only love can heal the hidden wounds that cause some people to lash out in rage.

Jesus told his disciples that they can expect persecution and trouble, and that the key to following him was not to arm themselves, but to love their neighbor, to love one another. A person who knows they are loved, whose life is on that sure foundation of trust that they are valued and cherished, is not going to pick up a gun and slaughter strangers.

We have a lot of work to do to pay attention, to notice people, to love them, even when they’re hard to love. So – put your phone down; look people in the eye; make sure they know you care.

— Sam Pendergrast, Rome


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