Over the last week, our nation has suffered mass shootings in Texas, Ohio and California along with dozens of other deadly shootings across the country.

Earlier this week, Washington National Cathedral asked the nation to look inward at our tolerance for hateful and racist rhetoric. I do so again, asking, how long will we tolerate this epidemic of gun violence?

I say this as someone who is myself a gun owner. I grew up with guns, bird hunting and target shooting with my family – activities that I still engage in to this day. This can’t be an argument between those for and against gun ownership. The number of shootings in our country is obscene. The fact that we fail to do anything substantive to reduce these kinds of tragic incidents is negligence.

And to my fellow gun owners, thinking that the right to own guns in America means that we cannot take significant steps to reduce gun violence is both selfish and deadly.

It is absurd to suggest that eliminating military style assault rifles and extra capacity ammunition clips or requiring universal background checks will lead to the government taking away all our guns. These are fears stoked by a gun lobby that values the desire to own such weapons over the well-being of the community.

We must also address a culture where hate is all too present in our national dialogue. The specific motives of this week’s shootings are still under investigation. However, seeing deeply troubled individuals driven by anti-immigrant and white supremacist sentiments seeking to make their point with deadly force is not a consequence we should tolerate.

As a person of faith, prayer is always central to my life, but the act of prayer is not an excuse for the lack of substantive action to address gun violence. If we value the lives lost, do not let these shootings further numb us. Let them drive us to create change and finally take steps to eliminate these mass killings.

The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall HollerithDean of Washington National Cathedral

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About Washington National Cathedral
Grounded in the reconciling love of Jesus Christ, Washington National Cathedral is a house of prayer for all people, conceived by our founders to serve as a great church for national purposes. Learn more at www.cathedral.org