Church: We’ve prayed; time now to pass gun laws

After prayerful consideration, we, the congregation of First Presbyterian Church in Frankfort, have decided prayer is not enough. We’ve mourned alongside the nation as countless lives have been taken in mass shootings. We’ve attended vigils to remember the victims.

And we’ve prayed. How we have prayed.

We prayed after Blacksburg. We prayed after Tucson. After Fort Hood. After Aurora. After Newtown. After Charleston. After San Bernardino. We’ve prayed and prayed and prayed.

After Orlando, we’ve decided we can’t just pray anymore. Just as we were about to lose faith in prayer, we turned to the Bible, which, in James 2:17, stresses, “Thus also by faith itself, if it doesn't have works, is dead.”

Our congressional representatives have said many times after these massacres that the victims and their families are in their prayers. Surely, they, too, are disheartened by how little prayer has accomplished.

Surely, they, too, see that these prayers require action to end this cycle of violence. Surely, they want to scream from the rooftops, “Never again!”

The weapons of war that have been used in many of these shootings are fine for the battlefield — that is their intended purpose. But they are not necessary on the city streets and country roads. The victims at the end of the barrels of these military-grade guns haven’t been on some far-off battlefield. They’ve been in college classrooms, outside a grocery store, in a movie theater, in a church, in a bar and, perhaps most heartbreaking, in an elementary school. All places where safety should not be a concern.

These weapons should not be available for use outside their intended purpose — for soldiers to use in war. Private citizens should not have access to these guns that leave nothing but carnage in their wake.

We recognize there are other issues involved in these heartbreaking crimes. Some of the shooters have mental health issues; some were put on watch lists for their ties to terrorism. But addressing those issues can be resolved through background checks and a waiting period to get a weapon of any type.

So we are imploring our congressional representatives to take action. Please support common-sense gun laws. Ban these military-grade weapons, as they were for many years, and prohibit the sale of guns and ammunition to people with mental health issues or who are suspected of ties to terrorism. If they can’t get on an airplane, why should they be able to buy weaponry that puts American lives in danger?

Prayers are important, but without action, they accomplish little. We’re ready; are they?

The Rev. Sandra Lacey is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Frankfort. The column is also signed by church leaders Charlie Kendell, clerk of the session, and Mary Branham, deacon.