by Rev. Randy Coleman
We’ve seen it in the news numerous times. Many U. S. citizens have lived through it and some have even died.
Recently we heard of another mass shooting on a high school campus. Seventeen young people, including some adults, lost their lives in this one. Parents are grieving for their lost children. Family members grieve for a lost member. Students and administrators grieve for a lost colleague. We at Belmont UMC, grieve with you. We do pray for you, but we will also stand up with you to help end the violence in our schools and our public places throughout this nation.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Sixty cases of gun violence of some type have already been reported in our nations’ schools just this year! That’s only in two months! Some of these incidents, like when gun shots were fired at a high school football game in California do not get reported, as no fatalities were recorded. Even one incident, no matter the results, is not acceptable.
Students across our country are rising up and saying, “Enough is enough, let’s stop the violence. Let’s do something about it.” You have heard them speak strongly and loudly in the news or in our nations’ capital to law makers. They are making their voices heard. They are planning marches in our cities for March 24th.
One student from Parkland Florida said, “Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear,” the March For Our Lives website says. “It doesn’t have to be this way. Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard.”
Some students in Utah have begun a quiet protest where they stand quietly at their desks every Monday for three minutes to call attention to the continuing gun violence in schools. They call their movement the #Standfor214, which indicates the time of the Parkland, Florida shooting at 2:14 p.m. on Feb. 14, or 2/14. The students stand for three minutes ending at 2:17 p.m., in honor of the 17 lives lost in the shooting.
It’s time to put away our partisan politics on this one and stand up for what is right. We cannot allow kids to go to school afraid every day. This is not about Democrats, Republicans or the second amendment. It’s about safety and protection. I encourage each of us to get involved in some way. My wife and I are writing to our congressmen to urge them to put safety first. We encourage the banning of all assault rifles (they are not needed for civilians); background checks for gun purchases, the raising of the age from 18 to 21 to purchase guns, and proper help for those who show mental health issues. I know, that will not stop all the violence, but it is a good place to start. Let’s stand with our young people! Ultimately, let’s follow our Savior, Jesus, who leads the way to true peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).