The Everydayness of Gun Violence

I’ve been processing my recent time at the American Academy of Religion meeting over the last few days. I keep notes along with my schedule, and I looked at them in the context of the news. A striking pattern emerged.

On the day I attended a session on patriarchy and violence, Dr. Tamara O’Neal and two others were gunned down by a man furious at O’Neal’s telling him that she didn’t want to marry him.

Above, one of the 1.500 women killed by their partners each year in the US. Two million men in the US abuse their partners. One-third of homicides of women are committed by their partners. The US has a greater number of honor killings that does Pakistan. Domestic abuse doesn’t just hurt women–it endangers whole communities.

On the day I attended a session on Christianity and guns, two shooters in downtown Denver–just a short distance from where I was at my conference--killed one person and injured four others.

That session on guns included half a dozen professors who had some personal connection to mass gun violence, including a professor from Pepperdine who recently lost a student in the Thousand Oaks shooting. “How are your students doing?” I asked. “It’s hard to say,” she confessed. “The day after the shooting, we faced these wildfires, so we haven’t had time to mourn.

I was struck by the relentlessness of violence in our world.

And then, the morning of my own panel, on the relationship between religion and extremist violence, I awoke to news that more than 50 scholars of Islam, gathered to share their work, were killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Violence like this has come to seem typical, but it’s not, and it normalizing it is dangerous, for both practical reasons (We can’t give up fighting it!) and health ones (We carry this pain even if we think we don’t.)


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