People gather at Robb Elementary School, the scene of a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, May 25, 2022. REUTERS/Nuri Vallbona

May 26, 2022

Another mass shooting. How should we respond?

Our country has been shocked again by a mass-casualty shooting event at a school, this time an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. There, 19 elementary school students along with two teachers were slain by a troubled 18-year-old with access to assault rifles.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that we are shocked at all; given the pattern of these events in the United States, there was an inevitability to this incident. In just over the last 20 years, there have been fourteen mass casualty shooting events of at least four deaths or more in American schools, starting with Columbine in 1999, where 13 died. The worst episode was at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, where in 2012, 27 died, again mostly elementary school students. 

Given the priority that Christ gave to children in his outlook and ministry (“suffer the children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven”), Christians must take seriously the question of our obligation to oppose and end this carnage. A true pro-life position must protect not only the unborn, but also post-natal life from death by gun fire. Christians concerned with life must see the importance of common-sense gun control legislation in helping prevent tragedies like we have experienced again in the school shooting in Texas. 

When a score of body bags are filled with young elementary school children as though shot in a battlefield, thoughts and prayers are simply not enough. Grieving parents, families and communities deserve a practical, measured response that will change the factors that lead to such tragedy. Part of that solution has to involve limiting access by civilians to assault-style weapons, such as the one used in the recent shooting.

I’m glad I belong to a Church whose leaders have called on its members and the public to work for a ban on sales of assault weapons to civilians (see below).

Find a way to support common-sense gun legislation that will protect legitimate gun use, but limit the insanity of putting high volume weapons in the hands of anyone who wants one. Consider getting on the mailing list of a responsible collection of religious groups like Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence to get the latest information on how you can practically work for change.   Comforting the broken-hearted, as Christ calls us to do, includes doing what we can to prevent a repeat of that which breaks so many hearts. 

Nicholas Miller is the Lake Union Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director.

“Automatic or semi-automatic military-style weapons are becoming increasingly available to civilians. In some areas of the world it is relatively easy to acquire such guns. They show up not only in the street, but in the hands of youngsters at school. Many crimes are committed through the use of these kinds of weapons. They are made to kill people. They have no legitimate recreational use.

The teachings and example of Christ constitute the guide for the Christian today. Christ came into the world to save lives, not to destroy them (Luke 9:56). When Peter drew his weapon Jesus said to him: “Put your sword back in its place . . . All who take the sword will die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52 TEV). Jesus did not engage in violence.

The argument is made by some that banning assault weapons limits the rights of people and that guns do not commit crimes, but people do. While it is true that violence and criminal inclinations lead to guns, it is also true that availability of guns leads to violence. The opportunity for civilians to acquire by purchase or otherwise automatic or semi-automatic assault weapons only increases the number of deaths resulting from human crimes. Possession of guns by civilians in the United States has increased by an estimated 300 per cent in the past four years. During the same period there has been a staggering increase in armed attacks and resulting deaths.

In most of the world such weapons cannot be acquired by any legal means. The Church views with alarm the relative ease with which they may be acquired in some areas. Their availability can only open the possibility of further tragedies.

Pursuits of peace and the preservation of life are to be the goals of Christians. Evil cannot be effectively met with evil, but must be overcome with good. Seventh-day Adventists, with other people of good will, wish to cooperate in using every legitimate means of reducing, and eliminating where possible, the root causes of crime. In addition, with public safety and the value of human life in mind, the sale of automatic or semi-automatic assault weapons should be strictly controlled. This would reduce the use of weapons by mentally disturbed people and criminals, especially those involved in drug and gang activities.”

This public statement was released by the General Conference president, Neal C. Wilson, after consultation with the 16 world vice presidents of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, on July 5, 1990, at the General Conference session in Indianapolis, Indiana


In response to the recent school shooting in Texas, the North American Division issued this statement.