As we watched the horrific images of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting flash across our television screens on February 14, we were horrified and angry in our mourning. The school shooting in Parkland, Florida was the 18th shooting on school grounds in the first 45 days of 2018. During that time, most districts only had 36 days of school. That ratio—a school shooting every other day—is incomprehensible.
As we bury the dead, tend to the injured, and work to help our children cope with this trauma, there will be an inevitable focus on why this happened. Today, we urge you to ask a different question: “how?” How is it possible? What continues to perpetuate the occurrence of such horrific crimes? The answer—yet again—is that someone had easy access to a semi-automatic rifle and high-capacity magazines and committed mass murder in the place our children are supposed to feel the safest.
This has happened over and over again in America, and we must take steps to stop it. As a people of faith, we can join together across the religious spectrum to invoke support and prayers for the families and friends of the victims of this tragic event. Our faith and prayers are necessary—but they are insufficient. We must work on the underlying issues that remain: easy access to guns, the regulation of assault weapons, storage of guns, and the elevation of gun rights over the moral obligation of responsibility.
The Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network is committed to this work, and we are honored to be standing alongside other people of faith as we fight for a better tomorrow. Together, we can take the bold and meaningful action necessary to prevent having to ask—yet again—the dreaded question of “why?”