Kennington Avenue

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

When will the violence end?

Today, a mother and a father are thinking about something they should not be thinking about. They are making plans to bury their 10 year old daughter who was shot in the head two months ago while she was playing on the playground of a nearby school. She was caught in the crossfire of two men who had no regard for those children that day. They were only concerned with settling a score over something that in the larger scheme of things was foolish. Sierra Guyton paid the price for the senseless violence that would erupt on that fateful day in May. The men responsible for the shooting and who will now be charged for her death sit behind bars. But Sierra will no longer be around. Her laughter, her joy, her energy will no longer fill the house or the lives of the mother and father who loved her. This shooting has touched a nerve in the community and in the city. Every act of violence that results in someone dying is simply unacceptable. It must be unacceptable to all of us. Every act of violence that results in the loss of someone’s life is personal. And while we grieve with Sierra’s parents I hope that this death will stir us from our apathy and our complacency around gun violence. I hope that this death will embolden us to become politically active-politically involved in campaigns for tighter gun control legislation. But we need to get guns off of our streets periods and out of our emotional system. If we continue to think of ourselves as a civilized people why do we need guns at all? That is not just my question. It is the question that the parents of Sierra Guyton is asking and will be asking for a very long time. And if we have any compassion for these grieving parents the best support that we can offer them and the greatest tribute in memory of Sierra that we could offer is to press our representatives to put stronger teeth in our gun laws.

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About the author

Ken Wheeler is a retired pastor. He most recently served at Cross Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Milwaukee, where he is now the director of the Bread of Healing Empowerment Ministry. For 18 years he was as an assistant to the bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA.