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'We have to move past the weeping and keep a bit of anger': A Christian response to Texas school mass shooting

by Alex Collett

A gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest U.S. school shooting for nearly a decade, prompting President Joe Biden to urge Americans to confront the country's gun lobby and pressure Congress to tighten gun laws.

Authorities said Salvador Ramos, 18, on Tuesday shot his grandmother, who survived, before fleeing and crashing his car near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and killing at least 21 people before being killed, apparently shot by police.

Officers saw the gunman, clad in body armour, emerge from the crashed vehicle carrying a rifle. They said he acted alone; the motive was unclear.

Rev Jennifer Mills-Knutsen, senior minister at American International Church in London told Premier: "My initial thought is sadly, oh no, not another one, because this is far too becoming or has been a part of American life in the last 20 to 25 years and we're becoming far too numb to the reality of this news breaking over and over again.

"If our hearts stopped being moved by these things, then we are lost.

"I always return to the words from Jeremiah that remind us in the time of exile. Rachel weeps for her children, because they are no more, and there is no bringing them back. So Rachel has no proper response, but to weep.

"But I always also want to remember what follows that in Jeremiah, it says, Rachel weeps for her children, and she refuses to be comforted, for they are no more. I think that we have to refuse to be comforted after these events. If we can be comforted, then that's how these things keep going on and on and on.

"We have to refuse to be to be comforted by the slaughter, that guns and individuals with guns and a system that perpetuates guns all over the country is causing in our children, in elderly, in grocery shoppers, in churches in California just a week ago, in any setting. We have to move past the weeping and keep a bit of anger that this is going on."

In a televised speech Biden, his voice rising to a crescendo, said: "As a nation, we have to ask when in God's name we're going to stand up to the gun lobby, when in God's name we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done."

A Democrat, Biden accused the gun lobby of blocking enactment of tougher firearm safety laws. He ordered flags flown at half-staff daily until sunset on Saturday in observance of the tragedy.

"I am sick and tired of it. We have to act,” he said.

Mass shootings have frequently led to public protests and calls for stricter background checks on gun sales and other firearm controls common in other countries, but such measures repeatedly fail in the face of strong Republican-led opposition.

Rev Mills-Knutsen, who is also an American, told Premier Christians who believe that their right to have a gun triumphs over the frequency of mass shootings need to have a re-think.

“We [Christians] have to ask hard questions about whether our guns and our weapons have become an idol for us and whether we are putting faith in those weapons rather than faith where it belongs, which is in Jesus Christ.”

She also urged Christians to be praying about the tragedy.

“Pray for all of those families and first responders and community leaders who are forever wounded by this, and for those children who died, alone and in terror. And those prayers should refuse to comfort us. I pray that the prayers that we offer out of the weeping of our hearts would be prayers that change us as disciples and compel us in our own discipleship towards a path of peace and justice and strength and a refusal to be comforted until the world is set to a better place.”

Listen to Premier’s interview with Rev Jennifer Mills-Knutsen here:

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