RESPONDING TO ORLANDO SHOOTING
by Rev. Leland Stewart, B.S.E., B.T.
The Orlando, Florida, mass shooting was the largest such event in the history of the United States. It has already had a major impact. However, there have been a number of other serious destructive occurrences in the last few years. Clearly, this country needs to take much more effective action to reduce the severity and frequency of these events. What was until fairly recently something happening in other countries and particularly in the Middle East is now powerfully affecting the people of this country.
Most of these happenings have involved the use of military-style rifles, which should not be used except for military purposes. It is time that our country got control of itself with regard to the sale and use of military-style weapons in particular, but also guns in general. Mentally unstable people and those who have been radicalized by ISIS and other terrorist groups should not be able to buy guns of any kind. I am told that many of these people are on a no-fly list, but they still are able to buy guns. Certainly, this situation needs to be changed.
We claim to be a country that has respect for human rights and for providing a safe environment for children and for adults. Now we have a chance to show that we mean what we say. Perhaps this latest and largest mass shooting will be sufficient for us to take the actions necessary to bring about major changes in the direction of controlling the possession and use of guns.
When the United States was being settled some years ago, there was more of a “Wild West” attitude. In the time in which I grew up, these movies were being shown throughout the country. But now we are a major force in the world, and we need to be an example as to how we can solve this problem. The example of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King in terms of nonviolence is part of our heritage, and we need to get serious as to how nonviolence can be front and center in the years ahead of us. This will be a long road of change for all of us, but it is time to make major progress NOW.
The interfaith movement, which has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years, can help in this process. We need a global code of living that will provide guidance in this regard, and creating such a code is part of our work in the Unity-and-Diversity World Council. May we all put our talents together on behalf of creating a responsible global civilization.