[editor’s note: this is an older letter by Rev. Leland Steward from Oct., 2015. Sorry, I was not able to update the site for a while]

“The non-violent approach gives (people) new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage they did not know they had.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Once again, now at a college in a small Oregon town, a mentally unstable person shot and killed, as well as wounding, a large number of people.  Prayers were uttered, and many people throughout the country felt very sorry about what had happened.  What was supposed to be a place where people could come to live a safe life became a place of shock and disillusionment.

President Obama spoke very clearly and forcefully as to what was needed.  While prayer and mourning are appropriate in such a situation, they are not enough.  We are no longer a nation out on the western frontier settling new and gun-toting wildernesses.  We are a country that is being called upon to be a leader in the world and an example as to the value of the democracy we have sought to establish.  Instead, we have far more violent incidents brought on with the use of guns than any other country in the world, with the possible exception of war-torn nations such as Syria.

Our Congress points out the political influence of the National Rifle Association, which for many years has fought for gun rights and opposed any kind of gun control, saying that it is not the guns which cause the problem, but rather the mental condition of some of those who have guns.

It is time now to move beyond the influence of the NRA and other individuals and organizations that refuse to establish sensible gun controls.  Those who have mental instabilities, and those who would do others harm, should not have access to guns.  People should not have to fear for their lives when they gather in groups.  We need to do whatever it takes to become responsible, alert citizens, and to see that our laws are followed.

There are an increasing number of groups now who are working for peace, justice, and a compassionate society.  In addition to encouraging the spiritual awakening that is taking place, we have a moral obligation to create a society that is safe for its citizens.  It is now time for this effort to increasingly be successful in accomplishing these goals.  We owe it to each other and to the world.  Let us come together and see that our concerns are paid attention to and the results brought about.

May peace prevail on earth!!!

by Rev. Leland Stewart