As I’m writing this, the next mass shooting suspect is preparing himself to kill.
From our lengthy history with mass shooters, we know what he looks like already. He is almost certainly a “he.” He is young, soft-spoken, quiet and unassuming. He is lanky.
He comes from a two parent family, in which both parents “never suspected him to do” such a thing. He will come from a small, provincial town that will be “saddened and outraged” that “such a heinous act could occur” in their small, peaceful town. This is not Chicago or New York. They should be safe.
And we already know how the next mass shooter will manifest mentally. If he is white, he will have mental health issues and the shooting will be an isolated act of a troubled soul.
If he is black, he will simply be an animal without a father who listens to violent hip hop and has a genetic predisposition toward violence.
He does not have a girlfriend. In fact, his inability to obtain a girlfriend plays a part in his decision to shoot and kill. He will have no real friends and most people will say that he was “always kind of weird.”
And our response to this young man’s act of terror is and will be the same.
If we are fundamentalist, conservative Christians, we are preparing to use the mass shooting to illustrate that Christianity is under attack.
We, and specifically our pastors and leaders, are calling on us to solve this mass shooting issue by becoming armed and trained to use firearms ourselves.
If we are progressive Christians, and the rest of America, we are preparing to pray for America, raise money, have memorials for the victims, hold candlelight vigils, forgive the troubled shooter, and plan for the next mass shooting.
And we may demand gun control. We do all of this because this is what we believe Jesus would do. We do this because this is what we believe the world requires good citizens to do.
But, what if instead of what we do now — bracing ourselves for the next mass shooting — we were consistent and proactive in our approach to mass shootings?
What if we had a consistent message calling for gun control and adequate mental health services for those who need it, and didn’t waver from this message until there was a change? Even if the NRA outspends us.
We can certainly use Christ’s three-year public ministry, as a model for advocacy.
In all of the gospels, from the time Christ began his public ministry until his death, Christ advocated for the poor and marginalized by consistently speaking truth to the authorities of the Roman Empire and calling out their corruption. He never wavers from that message while here on earth.
Christ’s consistency paid off. Christ eventually exposed their corruption and inconsistencies, and moved the world to be more compassionate.
We can prevent the next school shooting by doing likewise.