DAY 9: A tragedy became a catalyst for action

We continue our reflection on God’s call to us through the ELCA’s “60-Day Journey Toward Justice in a Culture of Gun Violence.”

DAY 9: A tragedy became a catalyst for action

On January 17, 1989, a 24-year-old gunman entered Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton,
Calif., and killed five students and injured 30 other people.

This tragic event prompted the California Assembly to respond by passing the Assault Weapons
Control Act, the first legislative restriction on assault weapons in the nation. It also was a catalyst
for a number of ELCA actions and responses to gun violence, its root causes, and its impact on
individuals, families, and communities—including the 1994 social message “Community

In a letter to the community of Stockton in January 2019, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton

“As it states in the ELCA’s Community Violence message, ‘As citizens in a democracy, we have
the responsibility to join with others to hold government accountable for protecting society and
ensuring justice for all, and to seek changes in policies and practices toward these ends.’
“But we can’t get there by ourselves. This is not our work, but God’s. And God is faithful. In the
death and resurrection of Jesus, God changed everything, a change no human effort could ever
bring about. We do God’s work of seeking justice, reconciliation and healing, certain that Christ
is with us.

“From the social message on Community Violence: ‘Guiding us is a vision of the age-to-come in
which people are free from violence, justice is done, and the common good is realized. “They
shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord” (Is. 65:25). May that promise
stir us to challenge and heal violence in our day.’”