By Sister Mary Ann Pajakowski, CSC
Editor’s note: Appalled by the continuing rash of gun violence in America, particularly following the horrors that occurred in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, the Sisters of the Holy Cross uphold their Corporate Stand on Nonviolence, calling for continued prayers and dialogue that can lead to solutions. In Utah, Sister Mary Ann Pajakowski, CSC, evidenced her support by participating in the local March for Our Lives.
The local chapter of March for Our Lives organized a march on Saturday, June 11. We started at West High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, and marched to the grounds of the state capitol. Our goal: to demonstrate against the lack of action on the part of the U.S. Congress to protect children from gun violence. We are calling for better regulation of who has access to firearms in general and, specifically, to high-capacity magazines and assault-style weapons. These guns can fire 30 bullets in 30 seconds or less and are capable of mass killings with terrible destructive force.
A do-nothing attitude on gun violence
A sponsored ministry of the Sisters of the Holy Cross based in Salt Lake City, Holy Cross Ministries conducts educational programs. The very thought of someone being able to terrorize a preschool classroom makes us angry and afraid. We are also disgusted with the do-nothing attitude of our present Congress, which dismisses these numerous incidents of gun violence as having no correlation to the number of weapons available in this country. This sentiment was the message on many of the signs people carried in the march.
When other public health issues arose in the past, Congress passed legislation. For example, we now have protective laws regarding food and drug safety and car safety. But with mass killings from guns, members of Congress who have legislative authority respond not with legislation, which is their duty, but with “thoughts and prayers.”
Congress: do your job to protect
Those of us who marched are sick of hearing from obstructionists who want thoughts and prayers instead of legislation in response to the murder of our children. The march was a call to members of Congress to do their jobs: to protect children and adults from the carnage we have witnessed in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, and all the other daily incidents of gun violence. The march called for increasing voter awareness regarding our representatives and senators who refuse to protect children by refusing to place restrictions on the kinds of weapons used in mass killings.
We mourn the loss of lives and the sorrow of people’s families. We decry the damage done to persons who were not killed, but had to witness or treat those who were shot, or transport them, or deliver news of a loved one being declared dead, or conduct and attend memorial services. These persons will live with those memories for the rest of their lives.
We commit to continue
What struck me the most during the march on that 93-degree day were the number of young parents who attended with children in strollers, with toddlers, with children in early grades … how they must look at the prospect of sending their children to school.
The organizers asked students to lead the march, and they were joined by families who had lost a young person to gun violence, followed by participating educators, and followed by all the other people who had come to support our children and families.By our presence with each other, we commit to continue to address this public health and safety issue, and call out those who choose not to, so that we can be more clear about what senators and representatives intend to do for the common good and public health.