Gun violence too close to home

Seventeen months after a mass shooting at a nearby movie theater, gun violence has once more erupted in a typical Colorado neighborhood.

By Miguel De La Torre

We picked our home the way most with middle-class privilege choose their neighborhoods. At the time, we had two adolescents who were on the threshold of beginning high school. We wanted a home that was close to school with strong academics and an emphasis on music. 

My children went to the public high school, receiving a fine education that prepared them for college. We went to the football games to cheer for our children, who were in the award-winning marching band. We got to know the teachers, parents and children as our home was always open to their classmates.

Because we live about two blocks from the school, we constantly see the next generation of high schoolers. In fact, this past Friday, when I stopped at the Starbucks across the street from the campus for my morning caffeine fix, I commented to my wife on their attire. One girl in particular was wearing a red miniskirt that I thought was too little clothing for this particular cold day.

That afternoon, a student walked into Arapahoe High with a shotgun seeking to find and kill the debate coach — who my children say is the nicest teacher at the school. Instead he shot a classmate who, at the time of this writing, is clinging to life.

I watched in shock on CNN while children were led away with their hands in the air and patted down by police. I emotionally broke down when I saw a girl wearing a red miniskirt standing in line waiting her turn to be checked by the police.

Once again, gun violence has come too close to home. When the Aurora movie theater shooting occurred, my daughter was planning to attend the Batman premier with her friends. Now, our children’s school is violated with violence. And yet, our refusal as a society to deal with our unreasonable and illogical gun laws contributes to the innocent being slaughtered on the altars erected to the NRA god. 

Yes, guns kill people. They are weapons of destruction that, depending on the killing machine chosen, can murder masses of children within seconds.

Was it only a year since the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre occurred? Many have shed crocodile tears, but the fact remains that since then there have been 26 school shootings and more than 30,000 deaths by way of gun violence.

We remain complicit with this shedding of blood because we continue to wring our hands saying “what a shame” while going on with the rest of our lives. But a society that cannot protect its children from harm is barbaric and uncivilized. 

What surprised me is how little attention the Arapahoe High School shooting has received from the national media. It was buried in the New York Times the day after the shooting, and I have not seen many more stories since. Have we become so callous that the death of children, created in the image of God, is either explained away or ignored?

For those who cling to the Second Amendment, let me remind you that our Constitution also protected slavery and counted blacks as 3/5 of a person. Our Constitution is not Holy Writ. For those who claim to be Christians, it is blasphemy to refer to any political document as inerrant. The Second Amendment may have been appropriate in the days of slavery, but hopefully, as a culture and society, we have evolved since then.

Those who claim to follow the Prince of Peace while continuing to flirt with the god of war are guilty of spiritual adultery. In biblical times, the prophets railed against those who worshiped Yahweh and Moloch. Today we worship Jesus and the NRA.

Our country needs sensible gun laws. When two Colorado state legislators began to move in that direction, they were recalled through the power of the NRA, even though local and national polls show support for these initiatives. Even though the public is crying out for reform, too many politicians are scared to be visionary leaders and too many others have become the lap dogs of the gun lobby.

Where are the Christians who have devoted their lives to following the One who died so that all can have abundant life? Christians who support the NRA’s knee-jerk reaction against sensible gun laws are — I strongly believe — complicit with the killing of our children. They stand in solidarity with those who should not have guns.

Christians cannot claim to be pro-life if they support the unregulated proliferation of instruments of death. How true are the words of the Apostle who in his letter to the Romans wrote: “You, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples?”

I believe Paul would today continue his litany with, “You who proclaim the sacredness of life, do you bring death by not regulating instruments that take life?”

Previous commentary:

Time to ban assault weapons

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.