Although the recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, ignited the March for Our Lives protests, many more thousands of Americans are killed each year by gun violence: including suicides—over 30,000 Americans per year. “96 Americans are killed by guns on an average day,” according to one handwritten sign.
Many of the signs targeted the NRA:
Not Relevant Anymore
No Rifles for Assault
No Respect for Anyone
NRA $ grabbing legislators hear our roar –
Watch us vote!
The sign, “No Republican Answers,” blamed the GOP for legislative inaction. Voter registration volunteers wandered through the crowd signing up prospective voters, saying, “Remember in November.”
One student’s sign brought tears to my eyes. It listed the dates on which students were shot, followed by “Am I next?” One child’s bike sign just said, “Guns are Bad.” Many teachers’ signs rejected having weapons in schools and asked instead for books, training, and counselors. Another sign, “Active Shooter Drills Aren’t Normal,” emphasized that even students in “safe” schools still suffer from the gun violence.
A Catholic newspaper in Tucson featured Catholic school students commemorating the deaths from school shootings and asking for better gun control. Pope Francis recently commended youth who are raising their voices and encouraged them to continue speaking up. The USCCB backgrounder on gun violence echoes the words of Pope Paul VI, “If you want peace, work for justice,” and also asks for a ban on assault weapons, better gun control, and safety for students.
May we continue these efforts to help turn the tide against gun violence, to help our society put down our weapons, to live nonviolently as Jesus taught.