In the wake of three mass shootings within the span of a week, the dean of the Washington National Cathedral released a statement calling on Americans to take strong action to address the gun violence epidemic in the country.
“Earlier this week, Washington National Cathedral asked the nation to look inward at our tolerance for hateful and racist rhetoric. I do so again, asking, how long will we tolerate this epidemic of gun violence?” said Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, the dean of the cathedral.
The statement was released in the aftermath of three mass shootings across the country in less than a week. The first at a festival in Gilroy, California, where a shooter killed three before taking his own life. On Saturday in El Paso, Texas, a man walked into a Walmart and opened fire on civilians, killing 20 and injuring dozens. The third came just 13 hours later in Dayton, Ohio, where a shooter killed nine, including his own sister.
Hollerith said he grew up around guns and still goes target shooting and bird hunting with his family, but that he believes the gun control debate is improperly framed.
“This can’t be an argument between those for and against gun ownership. The number of shootings in our country is obscene.
“And to my fellow gun owners, thinking that the right to own guns in America means that we cannot take significant steps to reduce gun violence is both selfish and deadly,” Hollerith said.
Hollerith said he blames the gun lobby for stoking fears among the populace that passing gun control measures — such as banning military-style assault rifles or requiring background checks for those purchasing firearms — will lead the government taking all citizens’ guns away.
“We must also address a culture where hate is all too present in our national dialogue … Seeing deeply troubled individuals driven by anti-immigrant and white supremacist sentiments seeking to make their point with deadly force is not a consequence we should tolerate.”
In two of the three killings, social media accounts believed to belong to the shooters made reference to white nationalist ideologies.
“As a person of faith, prayer is always central to my life, but the act of prayer is not an excuse for the lack of substantive action to address gun violence. If we value the lives lost, do not let these shootings further numb us. Let them drive us to create change and finally take steps to eliminate these mass killings.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.