I was enjoying a beautiful October afternoon as I was walking up the long, gravely hill at Bull Run Regional Park toward the Northern Virginia Pride Festival, yesterday. From where I was walking, I could see rainbow flags, booths handing out candy and kids running around playing. I could smell delicious food from the food trucks that had gathered for the occasion. And then I heard something that contrasted the children’s laughter and the music on the main stage: gunshots in the distance.
They kept ringing out. This time, I could tell they were far away.
That’s when I looked over my shoulder and saw that Bull Run had a shooting range next door to the event area. I breathed a sigh of relief because my mind had immediately gone to the possibility of a mass shooting at an event like a Pride festival. I wondered if anyone else heard the gunshots in the distance too and what it might feel like to be a group of people gathered for celebration and joy, to be reminded of pain and trauma that struck the LGBTQ community less than a year and a half ago at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.
And then this morning, I woke up to the news from Las Vegas. Another mass shooting. There is no sigh of relief today.
In fact, there hasn’t been a sigh of relief in a long time, really. A lot of us are walking around with chests heavy, tears welling up in our eyes and a constant awareness of the need to scout out locations whether it be movie theaters, Pride festivals or even our places of worship.
The tragedy in Las Vegas is horrific. Horrific.
We can say that our thoughts and prayers are with the people. And they are. They have to be.
And had our thoughts and prayers lingered from the previous mass shooting and turned to action, there might have been sensible gun control legislation passed. Had this country taken seriously the need to care for the victims of previous shootings, there might have been sensible gun control instead of continued idolatry of the second amendment and the National Rifle Association.
The sadness will be here today and in the coming days. It’s grief. Grief for the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas where people have died and been injured once again. And grief for the fact that we find ourselves here again. And when that haze of grief lifts, we must, as people of faith advocate for the safety of all of God’s beloved.
We are peacemakers in this world and we must pursue peace with justice.
-Leah Grundset Davis