Time is now to put end to gun violence

The Rev. Glenn Tyndall. Courtesy photo

The Rev. Glenn Tyndall. Courtesy photo

By the Rev. Glenn Tyndall*

Every time the date April 16, 2007, comes up, memories resurface for those of us in Blacksburg about that tragic day.

Every time there is an episode of gun violence anywhere in the United States, I see once again the picture of the mentally ill Seung Hui Cho, who wreaked unbelievable havoc and tragedy on the Virginia Tech community.

Recently I visited the second floor of Norris Hall, where 31 of the 33 deaths (including Cho’s) occurred. The beauty of the place belies the awful scene that first responders found there six years ago. It has been completely refurbished, and now houses the Center for Peace Studies and the Prevention of Violence.

My wife and I attended an open house at the center during a busy weekend last month, and there was almost no one there. In many ways, life has returned to normal. Yet the wounds are deep, and the memories are troubling for anyone who was here on April 16.

I was working at the Wesley Foundation on that cold and windy April day marked by blowing snow flurries. We were about 1/2 mile from Norris Hall.

The rest of that day and the days following, our center became a haven for our own Wesley students as well as others who were afraid, and needed warmth and comfort and maybe a couple of extra lines for phoning home.

In the days that followed, we prayed, we counseled, we fed students and had group discussions about “why?” One of my major jobs quickly became brokering the tremendous outpouring of tangible tokens of love from around the United Methodist world and other places: posters, cards, crosses, prayer shawls, Bibles and literally hundreds of dozens of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

The Wesley Singers participated in an incredible Sunday morning service at Blacksburg United Methodist Church on April 22, hearing an outstanding sermon by our pastor, the Rev. Reggie Tuck.  All of these things, plus candlelight vigils on campus, helped the healing begin and then continue.

The April 16 shooting politicized me on the issue of gun violence. Regardless of the legal ramifications at this point, I am convinced that it is an ethical issue, a moral issue and a spiritual issue.

Tucson, Aurora and Newtown have only made it more clear that the status quo is not satisfactory. It is time for Christians, Jews, Muslims and other people of good will to act individually and collectively to do all that we can to curb this insane epidemic of citizen-against-citizen gun violence that has marked our country, almost uniquely in the world.

The day of the Newtown shooting, thinking about a young man firing a semi-automatic weapon repeatedly into the faces and bodies of first-graders at point-blank range, my reaction was “Enough!”

We must do whatever we possibly can to take a stand.

When the next Newtown occurs, we can at the very least say we have done all we can to prevent such carnage. We cannot say that today, because of the irrational rhetoric of the NRA and the cowardice of our politicians.

While it is true that Hokie Nation, the students, the campus and the community are all stronger because of what we all went through, we cannot let this keep us from continuing to work for the prevention of gun violence here and throughout our country.

One misguided reaction to April 16 was to advocate for the presence of concealed weapons on campus. This is clearly not the answer.

Imagine if the first-responders had entered Norris Hall to find numerous weapons in evidence.  Imagine if others had been killed in the crossfire.

No, the lasting lesson of April 16 for us all should be, “Never again.”

Like the remembrance of the Holocaust, let us first say, “We will always remember.” More importantly, let us do all we can do as Christians and Americans, here and elsewhere, so we can say “Never again.”


—Tyndall is “almost four years into retirement from his position at Virginia Tech and enjoying it to the fullest.”





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  1. bob

    I notice, Rev., that you haven’t proposed what should be done to end gun violence. Have you an idea other than opposing gun violence? Would you change regulations or policies in some way, or is saying, “Never again,” and “We will always remember,” the stand you mean for us to take.

  2. Dr. Tommie Morton-Young

    I congratulate the Rev. for opening the discussion on ‘gun violence.’ And, I believe the church has a role in responding to this subject. Efforts to reduce the number of and desire for use of deadly ammunition seems a first step in response to someone’s comments. While responsible people have maintained guns in their homes for hunting and possible protection, the proliferation of deadly and sophisticated armories in the private domain suggests that there maybe ‘suspect’ motives. Fears that government and/or someone is going to take one’s recreational and protective devices, hinges on some deeper and questionable variable.

  3. bob

    What efforts, Doc, in your opinion could a local church make to reduce the “number of … deadly ammunition”? What protective devices, in your opinion, could one consider important to his or her safety without causing you to question his/her motives?

  4. Rick

    “Deadly Ammunition” “Gun Violence”…Wake up! Guns and ammunition are not violent. It’s immoral people. I agree morals ARE the issue. Stepping on the right of the people to possess firearms “Shall Not Be Infringed” Simple and basic. Why are anti-gun people crying to disarm honest citizens? Because they don’t look at history. Until the Lord returns, I will protect my family and friends from “BAD” people and not responsible gun owners. I encourage everyone to focus on the issues of morals and mental health beginning at home, community and church. We need to express our energy on bringing more young people to the church and educating them on God’s word.

  5. Joe

    I grew up in the Methodist Church and recently returned after leaving 25 years ago because it had become such a bastion of liberal nonsense. I see nothing has changed. The Rev. Tyndall has no idea what to do, he just wants some knee-jerk action that takes away our Constitutional rights. I suspect he probably thinks Obama is an honorable person.

  6. Aliceinwonder

    I laid my gun on the floor and not once did it become violent. I’m really confused. I have never seen any of my guns act violently. Or my knives. My knives just lay there like the gun does. My rocks are also not violent. How did Cain kill Able? How were millions of Jews murdered? Yes, some were shot…but most were gassed. What about gassing violence? What about U.S. false flag war violence? What about Islamic violence against women? You’re way out in left field Mr. Tyndall. You need a serous reality check.

  7. John Copenhaver

    Thanks, Glenn, for your thoughtful letter and reminder. For those asking about what steps to take, I would suggest the modest proposals that enjoyed widespread and majority support: universal background checks, no assault rifles, and the limitation of magazines to 7-10 cartridges. These steps will not prevent all gun violence, and they will take a while a have an affect, but they have worked well in countries that have adopted them.

    1. Rick Lear

      Again, one proposes useless actions proven to only disarm law abiding citizens. “Criminals break laws.” You falsely claim representation of the majority. The majority of US citizens are not willing to give up Second Amendment rights to forward an agenda of false facts. Chicago has some of the most stringent laws, pertaining to guns, yet the endure the highest crime rate in the nation. One cannot legislate criminals away! We must prepare ourselves to be trained to handle bad situations. Education is the key to self defense. The Bible for the Sprit and our tools for self defense.

  8. bob

    Yes, Rick. And I’m still wondering what John or Tommie or Glenn might recommend for a local church to do as a part of their ministry in this area.

    As asked before, “What efforts, in your opinion, could a local church make to reduce the ‘number of … deadly ammunition’?” and “What protective devices, in your opinion, could one consider important to his or her safety without causing you to question his/her motives?”

    1. Rick Lear

      Educate the congregation with ministries to prepare members how to protect themselves when entering into dangerous situations, at least until help arrives. 1. Understand how to recognize a threat. 2. How to safely exit from a threat and call for help. 3. Actions of self defense one must know by routine practice. 4. Educate the youth through programs such as: Boy Scouts, 4H Shooting Sports, NRA’s Eddie Eagle program. 5. Financially support programs for teachers to learn how to protect our children in school. 6. Church family spiritual support after any incident.

      Deadly ammunition reduction will not happen. All ammunition is deadly when used in a deadly manner. There will be firearms in the world used by both good and bad people. I find the main difference in ammunition use to be, “good people” practice with it, “bad people” don’t.

      One statistic seldom mentioned is how safe, well trained recreational shooters enjoy our sport. Watch a TV show like TOP SHOT on the History channel and one can view an example of how much fun your sport can be. Shooting is one of the safest family sports in the world.

      All this is summed up easily…EDUCATION.

      We are surrounded by people who are good and bad
      The Church should offer, leading by example, God, morals, love, forgiveness, and hope to all, not political opinions, platforms, or agendas… Just sayin’

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