John F. Kennedy. Martin Luther King, Jr. Robert Kennedy. Malcolm X. Medger Evers.
In my growing-up years, the murders of these leaders were a hideous stain on the fabric of our nation. Against a backdrop of television movies of bad guys and good cops; of settlers and Indians; of mob hits and army battles, these were my heroes, cut down by gunfire.
On August 1, 1966, ex-Marine sniper Charles Whitman killed his wife and mother, then climbed a 27-story tower at the University of Texas and killed 14 more people before police shot him to death. None of them were famous, but I imagine they were someone's hero. They were loved, and they loved.
According to the The Washington Post, there have been 130 events since then, in which four or more people were killed. Six in a gurdwara; nine in a church, 26 in an elementary school, 49 in a nightclub, and now 59 at a country music festival.
As the families of those slain in Las Vegas bury their beloved; as the wounded struggle to survive; as detectives and forensic scientists piece together the what and why of yet one more mass shooting, we have to do more than pray. We should be shouting; this violence warrants our shouts of protest.
Don't misunderstand, I am an African-American clergy woman; I know prayer changes things. But I come from a people who put prayer and activism in the same breath to battle Jim Crow; to ensure voting rights and marriage equality; to protect health care and the rights of religious minorities.
Prayer is the breath in our lungs as we speak up, vote, lobby, march, protest, blog, tweet, and insist on the value of every human life.
Even in the midst of prophetic grief too painful to describe, now is not the time for silence. We must take a deep prayer breath and raise our voices. We must insist that our leaders work together on common sense gun safety. We must shout, "Enough carnage! Enough death! Not one more Sandy Hook, or Oak Creek; not one more Charlotte or Orlando. Not one more Las Vegas, because we will not stand for it."
Here is how to shout right now about two pieces of legislation moving through Congress.
The bipartisan SHARE Act (Sportsmen, Heritage and Recreational Enhancement) eliminates restrictions on silencers and treats them as ordinary firearms.
—Action: Sign the petition Tell Congress: No Silence on Gun Violence
—Action: Text REJECT to 64433 to say no to this dangerous provision.
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (HR38) will weaken restrictions on carrying guns across state lines.
—Action: Text REJECT to 64433 to say no to this bill. You will be instructed to text CALL; you will get an explanatory call that gives you language to use, and then be sent to the switchboard at the Capital.
Let's lift our voices, let's shout our determination. Let's flood the phone lines. Enough silence on gun violence!