Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Shooting on the Danforth

Sunday night, as you have heard by now, a single shooter shot and injured 13 people, killing 2 along the Danforth in Toronto. 

I have not commented. Not because I don’t care. But because words are hard to find. It’s hard when 2 young women are killed. I have no answers. 

I could go on about how awful guns are, but someone else is going to start an argument about how more people having guns would have resulted in less devastation. I don't believe that for a minute. I know that no gun laws will stop this epidemic. (That's not to say we shouldn't have restricted laws on guns). If we ban guns, we will simply see violence taking other forms. 

Who and what do we blame? Because that’s what we do when difficult, painful things happen, isn't it?. Access to firearms? Religious ideology? Mental illness? Lack of social resources? Family members? Immigration policies? Racism? Socio-economic status? Probably a little bit of all of them. 

In the days since Toronto council has passed a series of motions intended to begin addressing the proliferation of illegal guns in this city. These include: 
  • a motion to immediately hire 100 new police officers; 
  • a motion asking the province to change legislation to permit the city’s social housing landlord, Toronto Community Housing Corporation, “to evict people for criminal behaviour specifically related to guns, gangs, and drug trafficking”;
  • a motion asking Ottawa to change federal legislation to:
    o Include tougher penalties — including mandatory-minimum sentences — for gun traffickers;
    o Direct more resources to tackle domestic firearm trafficking, specifically targeting large single purchasers of firearms; and
    o Implement tougher screening for mental health and intimate partner violence issues for licensed gun owners and those seeking to acquire firearm permits. 
We will never know exactly why this man chose to fire a handgun into restaurants along the Danforth. (Anyone suggesting that they know why is speculating.) 

We do know he was Muslim. (Anyone who suggests that every, or even the majority of Muslims are violent has bought into a stereotype.) 

We do know he had diagnosed, mental health issues that were unable to be treated. (Anyone who places blame at the mental health system for not “fixing” him, doesn’t understand mental health.) 

There has been an unsupported claim by ISIL that the gunman was one of their soldiers. (Anyone who believes everything that ISIL says, doesn’t understand propaganda.) 

Among the saddest of responses has been some who call themselves Christians: 
  • who seem to be ready to jump all over a possible terrorist connection; 
  • who seem to see any reference to mental health as a red herring; 
  • who are ready to blame Muslims for this; 
  • who seem to delight in stirring up hate. 
Among the best responses has been the folks from theJesusnetwork. The gunman lived and his family still live in Thorncliffe Park. Friday, 27 July at 7pm, they are hosting a prayer walk through the area. 
  • Instead of feeling helpless watching endless news reports, they will shine a light into this darkness. 
  • Instead of being paralyzed by fear and withdrawing, they plan to step out in faith. 
  • Instead of sitting and worrying and doing nothing they will march for and with Jesus into the places he seeks to reach. 

We cannot control how other people choose to act or what they say. But we can control how we respond.

Can any good thing come out of Thorncliffe? Yes. 
I would encourage you to join with theJesusnetwok, wherever you are this Friday in praying for the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood

God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love. Let's pray to show the gates of hell they will not prevail! Let's believe with others that God is working in the midst of terrible darkness.

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