I don’t know if you have seen the article in yesterday’s Christian Science Monitor that reported that for the first time since the Sandy Hook tragedy, more Americans support gun rights than support gun control. This is a big switch that has taken place less than two years following the shooting that took place at Newtown in which 27 people (and the gunman) were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The figures come from a Pew Research Center report. Some other interesting findings from the study suggest that 6 in 10 Americans believe that gun ownership does more to protect a person from being a victim of crime and 4 in 10 believe that it does more to endanger personal safety.
This caught my eye today since there was a report in the Chicago Tribune that said that there have been 95 gun related shootings on school properties since Sandy Hook. Half on K-12 campuses, the other half on college campuses.
That equals almost one incident per week. You can, and some will, argue over the statistics and if they are “really school shootings” but I think that is missing the point. We have become an increasingly violent society and believe that a bullet is the way to protect what “is ours.” That is clear in the gun buying frenzy that took place in Ferguson following the decision by the grand jury not to seek prosecution against officer
CBS news reported yesterday that 80% of whites believe that their local police force makes them feel mostly safe, but that number drops to 52% in the black population. It also reported that 43% of the black population report that they local police make them feel mostly anxious.
We are standing at a precipice. One that we haven’t stood on since the 60’s the only difference is that this time it seems to be more violent and vitriolic. The CBS poll really shows the disparity on how the white and black population view the role of police, deadly force and even race relations in general.
The good news in all of this is that Eric Garner’s death seems to have struck a chord in many white churches. While Michael Brown’s death was disconcerting, the circumstances surrounding it are very murky to many people. However, Mr. Garner’s death and the video of it, leave little to the imagination and have become a rallying cry against excessive force.
Players in the NBA and even the Georgetown University Men’s Basketball have been wearing shirts that proclaim Mr. Garner’s cry: “I Can’t Breath.” This groundswell has touched the hearts of many Americans (on all sides of the racial divide) and has helped many of us to have the courage to stand up and begin to seek solutions to the insidious side of prejudice in America.
I confess, that I often stereotype, and thus prejudice myself against people I do not know. I am struggling to become more aware of those (way too often moments) so that I can put them in their place.
And I am committed to crossing the divide that we (I) have made --- psychologically and physically that keeps me from getting to know my brothers and sisters. And I refuse to believe that peace is found at the end of the barrel of a gun, instead I have chosen to put my trust in the Way of Jesus. A Way that offers love, and hope to all --- not just some.