I pray. Most of us do.
In America this week, there has been an abundance of prayers offered. I don’t share mine often, or ever actually, but I thought I would this time.
I pray for all of the victims and their loved ones. I pray for the people of Las Vegas as they recover from this horrific and life altering episode. And I pray for America.
In this regard, I’m very much like every other American.
Now for a few things that make me different.
I do not believe that there is a perfect solution for our government to implement that would have prevented the shootings in Las Vegas, had that solution been implemented last week, month or year. I do believe that there are solutions to these kinds of problems after one very important thing happens:
We take the first step to find them.
The pattern of our nation’s response to what happened Sunday night in Nevada is predictable. It is unnecessary to rerun the pattern. We all know it. But there is a part of the pattern that has become intolerable for me. It is sentiments like these:
- There is no law that could have prevented what happened.
- There is no way to stop pure evil.
- Guns are not the problem.
- If you don’t have a specific suggested solution, then stop complaining.
I actually have a proposal, and I pray for it.
That proposal is profoundly simple. It is time to lift the twenty year ban on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on studying “gun violence” as a public health issue. For background, read this important piece from ABC News. My legislation would charge the CDC with specific items to study. Those items include the mass shooting phenomenon in America, but is not limited to that. We need to know about those other 30,000 deaths every year that come through domestic gun use.
Yes, that includes suicides. Yes, that includes accidents. And yes, that includes a study of urban versus rural patterns.
I don’t pray for an outcome of the study. I just pray that through non-partisan science, a menu of solutions can be found that will help America get better.
I pray America can get better.
The solutions might surprise me, but I trust the CDC. These possible policy recommendations might be unpopular to gun rights activists. They might not. If we collectively want America to get better, we need to collectively be prepared to do the work it takes to achieve that.
So what does “get better” even mean?
To me, it means to turn the trend. It means to make this last, worst shooting the actual last, worst shooting. It means to see the National Rifle Association (NRA) support something different than policies that protect their own economic interests, and make gun violence reduction a part of their mission.
What?! It’s not already?
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” is one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I am suggesting taking the first step toward a better America. It’s a long and steep staircase. The longer we wait to take the first step, in faith, the longer and steeper the staircase seems.
Nothing I am suggesting in this column should be feared by anyone involved in the gun violence debate. Except for those who fear learning, science and the solutions that come from it. These strategies might contradict preconceived and convenient versions of the truth. I don’t fear it. And I admit some of my grander ideas for reducing gun violence could be wrong. If I have to choose between getting better, or being right, I choose the former.
So I pray for strategies and solutions, no matter what they are.
From James 2:14-22, “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
I don’t know what my prayers for those who died in Las Vegas this week mean in the spiritual world. So I instinctively pray less for them.
My prayers are for the rest of us. We are the ones who are left with the ability to act on behalf of all of the people who have not yet been killed.
There will be many others. We all know it.
So more than anything, I pray for those people. I believe that ultimately our souls will answer our own prayers in one way or another. For a year I have prayed that we can find the strength to take that first step.
I would like you all to join me.