(A series of columns focused on and written by millennials and young adults)
By Christopher White
Catholic News Service
I was in sixth grade when two gunmen entered Columbine High School and mowed down 12 of their fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives. By the time another madman decided to shoot up his own campus of Virginia Tech, killing 32 students and faculty members, I was halfway through college.
What had become immediately clear was the lesson that classrooms had the potential to become battlefields — a reality that the generation following mine knows in even more painful and immediate ways.
Since then, that battlefield has extended to concert venues, airports, movie theaters and churches. By one count, there have been 739 victims of mass shootings in the United States since 1987, the year I was born.
This year alone, over 13,000 people have died as a result of gun violence in this country. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 93 Americans is killed by guns each day based on data from the past five years.
It’s for this reason that the U.S. bishops have recently called for a national debate on this country’s gun policies. Following the latest shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a 26-year-old gunman killed 26 individuals in a Texas church, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged the nation to reckon with the “fundamental problem in our society,” that leads to such violence.
As both the nation and the U.S. church attempts to address this crisis, Pope Francis is also encouraging that conversation — and also action.“A culture of life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms,” he added.
In one of the questions addressed to America in the preparatory document for the upcoming synod on young people, the Holy Father asks, “How does your community care for young people who experience extreme violence … and accompany them in various ways in their life?”