This is my favorite time of the year. I’m a sap about all of it. I love decorating the house, seeing the lights downtown, the music, getting cozy with a blanket and a good book, and spending extra time with the people I care about the most. As the old Christmas song goes, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Except in Newtown, Connecticut. Five years ago a man burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School with a semi-automatic weapon and fired 156 shots in less than five minutes. Six adult staff members and twenty children between the ages of six and seven were fatally shot. For the loved ones of each of the victims, and the entire Newtown community, this is anything but the most wonderful time of the year. Heartbreakingly, that is the case in countless communities across our country as mass shootings continue to take more and more victims each year. We mourn the loss of twenty-seven people this year in a church in Southerland Springs, Texas, and fifty-nine others at a concert in Las Vegas. We mourn the lives lost due to gun violence from suicide, homicide, and accidental shootings, unfortunately out numbering the lives lost each year in mass shootings, nearly all of which could be prevented with safer gun laws and careful ownership. We mourn the half a million Americans who have been killed or injured by guns since the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy.
While we continue to advocate for legislative policies that will curb the violence, we also continue to sit on the mourner’s bench with our brothers, sisters, and friends mostly closely affected by these tragedies. We hope you will join us this evening at United Church of Chapel Hill at 7:00 p.m. for a vigil to give voice to all victims and survivors of gun violence.