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It's Past Time to Act on Gun Violence

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The Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck

The utterly senseless mass shooting at a San Diego apartment complex pool party begs a terrible question: Is there nothing that can be done to frustrate those intent on harming others from carrying out their despicable acts?

Surely a nation that has the most powerful military, the smartest technology, and superbly trained law enforcement officers can come up with creative solutions to keep lethal weapons out of the wrong hands.

Hand guns and semi-automatic rifles are designed to kill swiftly and accurately. That's what the gun engineers had in mind when they set their specifications. That's what so many gun rights advocacy groups want to protect, the right to bear arms because of the efficiency they offer in lethal self-defense.

The guy that took a pistol to the poolside in San Diego knew he could do something there with that weapon that he couldn't do with a baseball bat or a knife. He could kill quickly, massively, and easily. He would instantly be the most powerful person in the equation. In this case, as in all mass shootings, it wasn't the gun alone that killed and maimed, it was the gun in the hands of a maniacal person that killed and maimed.

Is it beyond our abilities as a nation, states, counties, neighborhoods, communities, to keep maniacal people from getting their hands on weapons designed for quick and easy mass killings? We do it with hand grenades, land mines, and nuclear bombs; why not with guns?

My pro-lethal self-defense friends will say, "Well, that's why we need easy access to firearms, so that something like San Diego doesn't happen."

That would suggest a world where kids need an armed chaperone at every pool party and where Grandma and Grandpa can't take their kids for a swim unless one of them brings a .45 and stays out of the water with it, waiting to draw and fire over their grandkids' heads. Is that the world we imagine building for our children?

Come on! Let's be sober, reasonable, and responsible in this discussion.

As an Evangelical minister deeply concerned about the devastating loss, trauma, and fear surrounding continuing gun violence in our society, I believe it is past time for our religious institutions, civic leaders, and elected and appointed officials to work together to address this dangerous moral crisis and act immediately to reduce the availability of guns to people intent on using them to harm others. How about we begin by enacting "extreme vetting" for those who want guns for other than hunting and sporting purposes? That may be a good place to start.

No matter what we do, we dare not ignore this plague. One more life taken, one more victim disabled, one more child traumatized is just one too many.

Let us pray, collaborate, and get this done now.

The Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck is an ordained evangelical minister and president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, located in Washington, DC. He holds a d Doctor of Ministry from Faith Evangelical Seminary in Tacoma, Washington and is a senior fellow of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Law and Public Policy.

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