prayforcharlestonI am broken hearted by the news from Charleston.  My younger daughter and I visited Charleston last year on a college visit and fell in love. Every person we met welcomed us with quintessential southern hospitality and gracious kindness.  Our taxi drivers to and from the airport were a father and son team.  The son gave us tips on where to find the best cornbread in town on the way to our hotel. We went to the suggested restaurant TWICE. His father, probably close to 80 years old and more comfortable with the longer and slower route back to the airport, told us the story of how he met his wife and anecdotes from their lifetime of faith, family and service. It was my all time favorite cab ride of my life and almost convinced us that College of Charleston would be the best choice for her. He promised to look out for her if she went to school there…a surrogate grandpa, if you will. I wish I remembered his name so I could make sure that Emmanuel was not the church where he has been teaching Sunday School for the past 50 years.

I see his sweet face when I think of those killed last night. My heart is aching for the families who are stunned and broken today. Lord, have mercy. Lord, draw near.

Today marks the 14th time in his presidency that President Obama has had to address the nation because of a mass shooting.

From his remarks to the nation today:

“I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities have had to endure tragedies like this too many times,” he continued. “Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun…Now is the time for mourning and for healing, but let’s be clear: At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.  And it is in our power to do something about it.”

It should be harder to get a gun and buy ammunition than it is to buy Sudafed or obtain a license to drive a car.

I’m from Texas and have family members who regularly hunt and visit shooting ranges for recreation.  I have personally had a blast holding a rifle and shooting skeet.  My family members buy their guns legally and store their weapons responsibly.  We currently have a hunting rifle in our house that my husband has owned since boyhood.

I am not anti-gun.

I am however incensed, horrified and outraged that we we have mass shootings regularly in our country and still we do nothing.  I am amazed that while the gun laws in the United States are viewed as barbaric by the rest of the civilized world, we still do nothing.

I am heartbroken that we seem to be paralyzed as a nation, as if we have no power to DO anything about this issue.

Don’t mistake my point; I don’t know if a longer waiting period, consistent background checks, restrictions on assault weapons, limited access to ammunition or closing the gun show loopholes would have stopped last night’s tragedy.  We still know so little about the details.  Last night however was a reminder that this happens far too often. If the carnage was great enough 14 times for the President to address the nation in his short tenure, how many other times was it “only” one person murdered? Or only two? What constitutes a mass shooting?  How many are too many? Where is our outrage? Last night was a tragic reminder of a growing epidemic for which we seem to have no answers. Another wake up call.

I have been in a “discussion” online in the comments of Jen Hatmaker’s FB status regarding last night’s tragedy. She suggested we can no longer stand by in the face of racism and fail to name it, expose it and condemn it. I agreed wholeheartedly, but also suggested that our country’s relationship with guns needs to be examined as well.

Let’s just say that the vitriol with which my comments were met by my Christian brothers and sisters indicates that folks have some very strong feelings about the importance of their right to have unrestricted access to guns. Somehow the conversation, which I have since abandoned, deteriorated into me being ignorant, weak, and stupid and our President being an insect and the anti-christ.

(insert guitars strumming and heartfelt singing of “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love…”)

I have written about this before. Several times, in fact. Each time, I am outraged. But my attention span, our collective attention span, is short. I promise to do something, and I do for a minute, but then I forget until the next time.

How many more “next times” can we stand?  As people of faith, how long can we remain silent?

“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt