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Moderator's Message: Racism, Mass Shootings & Gun Control

by Mona T. Han

These past few weeks, like most of you, I have awoken reeling from the news of the unbelievably tragic and illogical massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, which in the words of the shooter was motivated by racism. Soon after the Charleston incident, there was major movement from many in social media, TV, and even messages from presidential hopefuls about the banning of the confederate flag after learning that the Charleston shooter was obsessed with the flag as a symbol of white supremacy.

In this process, I learned so much about this symbol of Confederacy, much equated with “Southern Pride” in many states across the South — including the fact that the Confederate flag that is flown on the statehouse grounds in South Carolina’s capitol city flew at full mast in late June in accordance with the State laws, even as the State and US flags were lowered to half mast in the aftermath of the tragedy. (See the NPR story:

It is all well intentioned for an initiative to remove something as controversial as this symbol of history. However, as a pacifist and a proponent of resolving conflict through non-violence, I don’t want us to get distracted about the importance
of gun control. I’m in utter despair whenever I hear of mass shootings of innocents. Guns are designed to wound and kill people. I don’t believe they have any place in today’s civilized societies. Mother Jones has reported data compiled by their investigations of US mass shootings. In the last 5 years, there were 154 people killed and 108 injured in 19 separate shooting incidents. (Source:

As is eloquently depicted in the cartoon image, we are ignoring the fact that we have not done a good job of keeping deadly weapons out of reach of evil people. We keep barking up the wrong tree. How many innocent lives will have to become statistics when we finally say enough-is-enough?

We journey in hope.

Mona T. Han is the Church Moderator for University Baptist Church in Seattle, WA.

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