June 12, 2016: Orlando, Florida – A man armed with an assault-style rifle killed at least 50 people and wounded 53 others in a crowded nightclub.
December 2, 2015: San Bernardino, California – A man and woman armed with assault-style rifles killed 14 people and wounded 20 others at a holiday party.
July 20, 2012: Aurora, Colorado – A man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in a crowded movie theater.
December 14, 2012: Newtown, Connecticut – A man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 28 people and wounded 2 others at an elementary school.
The assault-style rifle is the one common denominator behind these and other high-casualty mass shootings in the United States.
Apparently, the Islamic State has noticed how easy it is to obtain assault-style rifles and now they are encouraging followers to use them as the weapon of choice to inflict maximum damage in US attacks.
In times like these many people may ask the question, why God does allows a person to get a gun and kill a bunch of people.
The answer is simply this: God created mankind in His own image, and that included the ability to choose, to buy an assault-style rifle and kill a bunch of people.
God has given humans the opportunity to make choices that genuinely affect their destiny. In other words God has given us free will. The world’s current sinful state is directly linked to free will choices made by Adam and Eve.
Part of our free will choice is to become a disciple of Christ. And as a disciple of Christ God’s greatest commandment is this: “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:31
Clearly part of loving our God and loving our neighbor is not buying an assault-style rifle and killing a bunch people in a nightclub, a holiday party, a movie theater or an elementary school.
However, is allowing easy access to purchase an assault-style rifle keeping with God’s commandment to love him and our neighbor?
God has given us the free will to ban such weapons and in this nation’s history we have. They were outlawed in 1994. But that ban expired in 2004 and Congress opted to not renew it.
The Second Amendment right to bear arms is a Constitutional right not a command from God. Our command from God is to love the Lord with all of your heart, mind and strength and to Love our neighbors.
Therefore as Disciples of Christ the question what should we do when the easy obtainability of guns is leading to countless killings of neighbors in random acts of violence on the streets where we live and planed acts of terror in places where we gather?
As for this Disciple of Christ, I see no better way to love our neighbors in Orlando than by:
– Donating blood to assist the survivors
– Praying for peace and healing
– Denouncing all forms of hate especially hate based on religious belief or sexual orientation
And to lend my voice and efforts to reinstate the ban on assault-style rifles. Along with adopting other common sense measures that can help curb gun violence. While protecting the rights of law abiding gun owners.
May God continue to bless the people of Orlando and all of us as we do the difficult work of loving our neighbors as ourselves.