On Dec. 14, it will be 11 years since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Sadly, we continue to experience an epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings. In fact, 2023 marks the most mass shootings that the United States has ever had in a single year. As I write these words, we have had more than 40,000 deaths by guns so far this year.

Unfortunately, we in Maine now understand all too well the pain and trauma that comes with a mass shooting.

As an ordained minister, my heart grieves for all the suffering caused by these mass shootings. But I am not only sorrowful, I am also angry. I am angry because these deaths are unnecessary and could have been avoided. My faith tells me that the killing of humans is wrong. Thou shalt not kill. God is very clear that life is valuable, because God’s image is imprinted on each soul. God has told us what is right, “Thou shall not kill,” but has left it to us to figure out how to make it so.

This is not a discussion about ownership of guns for hunting. I am a Mainer. I know many responsible individuals who own guns for hunting. This is an argument of how to prevent mass shootings of humans. Maine hunting laws limit using semi-automatic rifles to five rounds for deer and three rounds for ducks.

Assault rifles like AR-15s and high-capacity magazines are made for one reason, to enable an individual to kill large amounts of people quickly. These are weapons of war. There is no reason for an average citizen to own such a weapon, except to kill. When we allow a society to make killing easy by the selling of AR-15s and high-capacity magazines, we are not honoring the image of God in each person.

As a Christian and as an American, I believe strongly in freedom. But when we are always in fear of when the next mass shooting will occur – at the grocery store, at the movie theater, at our places of worship, and, God forbid, at my local school – then we are not free.

There is an ancient Hebrew phrase “tikkun olam,” roughly translated it means “repair the world.” It is a concept that comes from Judaism where we are called to work with God to repair and heal the world. People of faith, our actions are needed now to repair the world and stop these killings. We are called to work with God to help heal the world.

I urge my fellow Christians to prayerfully consider what they can do to stop this epidemic of violence. And may your prayers lead you to action. As people of faith, our voices can make a difference. It is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers into action. Contact your local elected officials and demand a ban of assault weapons in Maine and for the nation. Tell them you want Maine to initiate a red flag law. Contact local retailers, like Cabela’s, and tell them that it is no longer acceptable to sell AR-15s and high-capacity magazines.

God has given us direction. Thou shalt not kill. It is time for us to take action to make it so.

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