A phrase attributed to Jesus states, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” While the never-ending violence comes from guns, not swords, I’ve long struggled with Jesus’ words. Consider that those demanding or legislating the use of these weapons aren’t the ones slaughtered but the innocent: children in classrooms, young children and families in their homes, and shoppers at grocery stores and shopping malls. They are the ones sacrificed, not those responsible for their proliferation.
Yet imagine if Jesus’ words weren’t directed solely at perpetrators but at those determined to keep it a way of life. Those who blindly believe that the slaughter of innocents is a necessary price for freedom. Those who vigorously dismantle any attempt to limit access to high-capacity rifles because they insist it violates personal rights. Those whose goal is assuaging their base politically no matter the cost.
Writes author Clint Smith, “I want to walk past the school where my son will attend kindergarten next year and see a place that will keep him safe. But this is impossible. We live in a country …where legislation is written — and erased — by the gun lobby. Where manipulations and distortions of Second Amendment rights prevent politicians from enacting any semblance of sensible laws that would at least attempt to prevent this. Where claims about what our Founders wanted supersede the slaughter we see right in front of us. Where the cocktail of easily accessible guns and the normalizing of extremist views makes nowhere feel safe.”
Will there ever come a time when enough is enough? When truly good citizens will triumph over this madness and make our schools, playgrounds, and markets safe again? When those for whom the common good is not an alien concept but the ethical framework by which society flourishes?
Thoughts and prayers are not enough. Nor will those who continue to prolong this carnage ever change. We need not “live by the sword,” but as responsible citizens and people of goodwill, we can choose to do all we can to rid our nation of this carnage.
If your representative is beholden to the gun lobby rather than your child’s safety, the power of the vote is in your hands. If your news station turns a blind eye or even promotes the use of assault weapons, you don’t have to follow them. And for those who speak of “constitutional rights” as justification for this slaughter, you can rest assured they lost their moral compass ages ago.
“Hope is a human virtue,” writes Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “…at its ultimate is the belief that God is mindful of our aspirations; [and thus] God has given us the means to save us from ourselves; so we are not wrong to dream, wish and work for a better world.”
May it be so.
 Credit…Léon Cogniet/Musée des Beaux-Arts, via Alamy
 The Gospel of Matthew 26:52
 Clint Smith, The Atlantic, No Parent Should Have to Live Like This, May 25, 2022
 Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations (London: Continuum, 2003), 207.