Make It Stop: a poem and a prayer for gun control

This post is offered as we approach the one year anniversary of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary and a family home in Newtown, Connecticut.

29 candles for the deaths at Newtown, CT
29 candles for the deaths at Newtown, CT

Turn on the evening news in any major city, and you will likely hear a story about shots fired and someone dying. Thirty seconds later, we move on to the next news story or the next sports event as though the world will not miss this beloved human being.

According to the CDC, gun violence is the second leading cause of death for children (ages 1-19) and there does not seem to be a change in this trend. Quibble with the statistics if you must, but let us at least accept the fact that we are losing too many people to gun violence.

We have become numbed to these tragedies, at best, or callous, at worst. And all heaven weeps…

I invite you to take a moment and grieve with me. Lament the young and old, black and white, rich and poor, who have been killed by violence. But weep especially for the disproportionate numbers of young people we have lost to gun violence.

My heart rages against this. My mind cannot comprehend a reason that any person needs an automatic weapon on our cities’ streets. I grieve for families who have a brother or sister or child who needs psychiatric help, and has not gotten it… and we see the results. I pray for the anger that fires a gun instead of choosing to walk away.

As a chaplain, I have held too many sad parents and spouses and siblings and children and friends in my arms as they weep and process the finality of what has happened… Someone they love has been shot dead. And there is no answer to their anguished WHYS…

I’ve been respectful to my friends and family who insist that gun control is a bad idea. I will continue to be respectful. But I will no longer be silent.

I pray for the families of Newtown and others who have suffered a senseless loss. I pray for my fellow pastors, priests and rabbis who have sat with families and mourned this senseless loss. I pray for those who would glorify violence. I pray for those who defend a way of earning a living rather than admitting that the policies and laws they defend are killing innocents every day. I pray for a culture that cannot solve its issues without violence. I pray, in this season of Advent, for the Prince of Peace to come and rule in our hearts. I pray, most of all, for the humility to notice when I do not live up to the ways of peace.


I wrote this poem a few months ago, as I sat alone in the on-call room and processed the loss of yet another person due to violence. I’ve quoted from it now and then (I just didn’t tell you…) At any rate, may the prayers of my heart speak to you. Join me in praying that gun violence will cease.

“O God,
Make it stop!”
Cry the daughters and mothers
As their sons and brothers
Lie in the street
Blood on their feet
“Not my baby!
Not my child!
Not mine, not mine!”
And someone says
“We have the right to bear arms!”
And there is
All turn and stare as the cold hard words
Clip their hopes
Once more…
“O God,
Make it stop!”
Cry the brothers and fathers
As their mothers and daughters
Are crumpled in bed
Shot in the head
“Not my baby!
Not my lover!
Not mine, not mine!”
And someone says
“We must stand our ground!”
And there is
As they walk away, as they give up hope
No peace, no promise
No more
No way…
O God,
Make it stop
May there be a night without gunshots
A day without a brokenhearted family’s tears.
Make it stop
May it be
Bring your peace
Help us, Lord…
Hold me, Jesus…


    • Yes! I wrote it! It is not published anywhere but here. If you’d like to publish it elsewhere, please contact me. My contact info is on the “About” page.


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