The longest three minutes

Published June 3, 2022

By Tom Campbell

Each Sunday morning during spring, summer and early fall The Oriental United Methodist Church has services on the riverfront. We love sitting on the banks of the Neuse, singing the hymns of the church, hearing scriptures read, being in community and listening to uplifting messages.
This past Sunday Pastor Anne Sims recognized that most were still trying to recover from the shocks of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Realizing there was little she or anyone could say to heal the broken hearts and troubled minds resulting from an 18-year-old kid with an AR-15-style assault rifle, Sims said words were often inadequate at these times. She suggested that sometimes the best we can do is to sit in silence, try to hear God’s voice and discern direction. She asked those gathered to close their eyes and sit in silent meditation for three minutes. She had a timer and would interrupt after the 180 seconds had elapsed.
It may have been the longest three minutes I can remember. Pastor Anne didn’t ask for reactions from those meditations, but you could tell the experience was impactful. 
A flood of thoughts surfaced in me. First was remembering we just went through this scenario in a supermarket in Buffalo. In fact, there have been 213 mass shootings in the U.S. in the first 21 weeks of this year. There are 321 shootings every day in this country where there are more than 300 million guns…almost as many as there are people. I am tired of hearing people say their “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims and their families. That’s just empty words.
It is unquestionable that this young man, and all mass shooters, are mentally disturbed, but it begs the question what are we going to do about mental health problems? Our solutions for mental illness border on criminal. Texas has a horrible track record and North Carolina isn’t any better. If that’s your solution for reducing or eliminating mass shootings let us hear your action plan.
And how about those constitutional “originalists,” who scream the 2nd Amendment guarantees them the right to own guns? In 1791, when the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to get enough votes for its ratification, the 2nd was included mainly so that the fledgling government would not have to organize and pay for a standing army, instead allowing local volunteer militias with their private weapons. Look it up. And never did the founders ever dream about AR-15s or any form of automatic weapons or high-capacity magazines. There is only one reason for these weapons: to kill people!
The National Rifle Association has brainwashed those who want to own guns and whipped them into an emotional state, telling them that the boogeyman wants to take all their guns. Hooey! The truth is this organization uses member dues to buy and pay for congressmen and other elected officials, people who more frequently shoot off their mouths instead of listening to those they are elected to serve.
Exhibit A in politicians genuflecting to pay obeisance to the gun lobby is our own Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, who recently admitted that he owned AR-15s and that they weren’t just for shooting targets. At a recent church meeting he said, “I got them [sic] AR-15s in case the government gets too big for its britches. Cause I’m gonna fill the backside of them britches with some lead.” If that doesn’t trouble you, it should.
This same wacko mentality wants us to arm our teachers to prevent future events. Seriously?
Michael Moore, the admittedly liberal political activist, said we care more about our guns than we do our children. I would add that we care more about our unborn children than we do children after they are born, but that’s another issue.
It won’t be long before we will mourn another mass murder from another mentally ill person, sending our “thoughts and prayers” to the families of those remaining. And once again the airways will be filled with pleas for reasonable gun control laws. But the sad truth is
Other countries aren’t so intimidated by the gun lobby. Rand Research reports, “Following a 1996 mass shooting in which 35 people in Tasmania, Australia, were killed, Australian states and territories reached the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) to adopt a ‘consistent set of firearm management principles into their own legislation and regulation.’” The government bought hundreds of thousands of banned weapons. The results from “removing so many weapons from the community have found that homicides, suicides, and mass shootings were less common after the NFA was implemented.”
At the end of my silence, I concluded that we should indeed be praying…praying for hearts and consciences to be changed in large enough numbers so we can rid our nation of this scourge. We are the only country in the world with such a problem. Surely a country that sent a man to the moon, ended segregation, and cured devastating diseases can find solutions to so many killings.