Prayer and Policy

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“Our definition is this: a mass shooting is an incident where four or more people are shot in a single shooting spree. This may include the gunman himself, or police shootings of civilians around the gunman.”

Am I on repeat here? Is this thing on? Gun violence deaths are, from what I’m seeing, a monthly occurrence. If you live in a major city, yes, it might be a daily occurrence. However, the laws in place — or lack thereof — do not afford us the ability to choose thoughts and prayers over thoroughly examined policy.

I cannot shake the forlorn face of President Obama as he had to announce the political block against gun control measures he presented before Congress. Not even the deaths of five- and six-year-old’s could change the tides. We say “never again,” but I think what we really mean to say is, “hopefully not too soon again.” Because, when the tragedy is not personal, it is only human to extend sympathy and move forward under the pretense that we are not all affected.

However, “again” and “soon” are merging. Not only that, we also have a President who quite literally copy and pastes his condolences, forgetting which mass shooting he is referencing. If this is not telling enough — a literal merge of events — what is even the point?

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My friend, Taylor Morrison, wrote this morning on the false narrative we create under the title of Gun Ownership, especially as Christians. As if guns provide a greater sense of safety, yet statistics show otherwise (How often do we forget about gun-related suicides?). I’d rather not go on a rant about the other awful Good Guy With a Gun narrative, so here’s an informative video for that.

I have researched and written a literature review surrounding the question, ““Are there correlations between early detection of mental health concerns and exposure to violent video games in an adolescent’s life that would lead them to commit a school shooting?” However, evidence of such was inconclusive outside of learning “only 4% of violent acts are attributable to severe mental illness.” Meaning, blaming mental illness is unacceptable and is far too much of a generalization. It is an insult to the mental health community — those who belong to it and those who are advocates — to perpetuate the stigma of violence and mental health.

What we need is a thorough examination of our leaders’ minds and the policy unto which we entrust them with. To play off Plato, an unexamined policy is not a policy worth putting forth. If I allow myself to sit in the gray areas of this, I see the paths politicians take in order to protect their position of power and influence. Often, these moves to reject policy reform are due to pleasing the constituents they represent. Though, I will not also dismiss the fact that, more often than not, it is also a move to protect their wallets.

I will never pretend to know what it means to be a politician. Paying the price to live as a public figure is steep, but it will never be as priceless as each and every life lost to gun violence. I do not want to live in a country where it feels like we are still centuries away from putting people before policy. We have to keep demanding change and ensure that prayer and policy co-exist in this world. We have to keep demanding one Nation, one heart.

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