It has only been a little over two weeks since the tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton that left 31 people dead. In both cases, the shooter used an assault rifle that is rightly described as a weapon of war. Among the innocent victims in El Paso was 63 year old Margie Reckard. One of the heart wrenching images in the following days was of her husband Antonio Basco kneeling in front of a memorial to his wife and the other victims.
Antonio did not have family in the area, so he invited the public to Margie’s funeral. The response was overwhelming as thousands came to pay their respects and to comfort Antonio. Here is a description from an online Time magazine article:
“He felt like he was going to kind of just be by himself with this whole thing but it’s not so,” Perches Funeral Homes director Harrison Johnson said Thursday of Basco.
While well-wishers waited, Basco arrived to people shouting blessings in English and Spanish. Before entering the funeral home, someone gave him a gift that appeared to be an El Paso t-shirt.
“I love y’all, man,” Basco said, before breaking down.
As the line swelled, Basco came back out to thank attendees personally for coming. People crowded around to hug and touch him. Basco appeared overwhelmed that strangers were now running toward him to show love and offer condolences.
This moving scene was a vivid reminder that each person is a beloved child of God and deserves the kind of respect and compassion poured out to Margie and Antonio. It also reminded me that we have made it too easy and too frequent in our nation to devalue and destroy the lives of God’s children through gun violence. It is not sufficient or accurate to ignore the problem of easy access to guns and blame this violence primarily on mental illness. This is a hurtful stereotype of people who suffer from mental illness, the vast majority of whom are not a danger to anyone. So many died in El Paso, Dayton, and other mass shootings because of the availability of weapons of war outside of the military. I am grateful for the many expressions of love and humanity in the wake of horrific mass shootings. I invite you to join with thousands of others around the country who are coming together to demand changes to our gun laws so that we won’t have to wait for more mass killings to treat each other as beloved children of God.