Last week in the misty rain, Circle of Peacemakers led us in showing up downtown to Demand the Ban on semi-automatic assault weapons. Designed to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, semi-automatic assault weapons are the most used in mass shootings. And they are remarkably accessible. One of the testimonies we heard from a woman who lost her son and husband to gun violence shared that earlier that week she was able to purchase an AR-15 in less than five minutes with a couple hundred dollars. We want to put a stop to this. We are losing too many people.
The demonstration began with a ceremonial meltdown and re-purposing of an assault weapon into a plowshare, a symbol of life. With our banner in hand, and people carrying t-shirts with the names of victims who were killed this year by gun violence, the crowd marched and chanted to Senator Toomey’s office in a peaceful call to action. A group of the demonstrators took another step of non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to deliver the re-purposed weapon to Senator Toomey. They didn’t get very far. Thirty-three people were arrested outside the building.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to be peacemakers. Our shared humanity compels us to care about God’s children dying from gun violence. But caring isn’t enough. Reducing and preventing gun violence requires political action. And a system is not easily changed! It begins with individual pieces. Banning assault weapons is not going to stop all the deaths by firearms, but it will greatly reduce the terrible numbers that grow with each mass shooting. On Monday night when the leadership team of our church gathered together we prayed for peace. We prayed about crises around the world. We prayed for a ban on semi-automatic weapons. But our thoughts and prayers are not the end. They are the continued fuel for our action as we work to end violence and bring about peace. Come, Lord Jesus, come.