Gun Violence

“Registered or unregistered, borrowed or stolen, automatic or semi-automatic, handgun or rifle — none of it matters as much as the state of mind of the handler. And since one’s psychological condition, as well as the myriad factors that can influence it, can drastically change at any time, the standing of a ‘responsible gun-owner’ is subject to the same rules as Russian roulette.” – John Morlino, Unrelenting gun violence doesn’t take a holiday (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, December 13, 2009)

No More Guns, student lie-in at the White House to protest gun laws

Photo by Lorie Shaull

In October 2002, I was among tens of thousands in the Washington, DC, area terrorized by the “Beltway Snipers.” Six of the victims were killed close to my home, including one person who was gunned down along my daily walking route. Since then, I have taken a strong interest in preventing gun violence and have spoken about the topic at numerous venues, including:

* Gandhian Conference on Nonviolence
* Washington, DC, Ethical Society
* Young Jains of America national conference
* North Carolina Society for Ethical Culture
* North American Vegetarian Society annual convention

Available presentations include:

Guns, Denial & Insanity: No one of sound mind engages in extreme violence. It is an act born of desperation. Accordingly, if we wish to substantially improve our collective safety, we must dramatically reduce the chance of anyone reaching such a level of despair. This session argues against the purported virtues of gun ownership and offers a blueprint for creating a safer society. Visit for help
Peace through Unconditional Compassion: We all want peace in the world, peace in our neighborhoods and peace in our hearts. To achieve these goals, we must expand our capacity to extend compassion and forgiveness unconditionally — even toward those who harm others. Drawing from real-life examples of people demonstrating compassion and forgiveness in the face of unspeakable tragedy, this session explores the practice of embracing the fullest principles of Ahimsa as a means of attaining genuine inner peace.

Schedule a presentation by clicking on the “send E-mail” link (above right). Please include your name and phone number in your message.


Every Gun Is an Assault Weapon (Houston Chronicle, July 2, 2018) 

Clad in a trench coat eerily reminiscent of the ones his infamous predecessors wore, a 17-year-old Texas student killed nearly as many people at his high school on May 18, 2018, as two teenage gunmen did at theirs in 1999. Unlike them, he carried out his crime with two of the most pedestrian firearms imaginable. (Read More)


To Fulfill Their Vision of #NeverAgain, Students Must Advocate for the End of Guns (Medium, March 8, 2018) 

This unparalleled stance would, of course, elicit a torrent of criticism from the usual suspects. Gun-control activists will also have your ear, warning that your approach is, at best, unrealistic, and, at worst, counterproductive.

But, if you are steadfast in your belief that the only acceptable number of gun-related deaths is zero, then the path you’ll chose is clear.  (Read More)


50 Million Ways to Curb Gun Violence in America (The News & Observer, November 16, 2017) 


(Photo: Lucas Wirl / Flickr)

Three of the five most deadly shootings in modern American history have occurred during the past 18 months. These devastating acts of violence highlight the fragility and unpredictability of the human psyche. If you’re looking for a focal point in our ongoing debate over guns, you won’t do better than that. (Read More)


The Only Sane Conclusion From Orlando (OtherWords, June 22, 2016) 

With the memory of our nation’s latest tragedy freshly etched upon your mind, you have, within you, a resource far more powerful than any weapon. (Read More)


Another Day, Another Massacre (OtherWords, October 14, 2015) 

This, apparently, is the price we’ve agreed to pay to uphold a convoluted interpretation of the Second Amendment. (Read More)


Who in Their Right Mind? (OtherWords, September 9, 2015) 

My immediate reaction to James Holmes’s 2012 shooting rampage at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater was twofold: horror and incomprehension. Who in their right mind could do such a thing?

Who in their “right mind,” indeed. (Read More)


An American Horror Story (, July 23, 2014)

She’d turned away her uncle earlier that day. Now he was back, and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Fifteen-year-old Cassidy again tried to dissuade him from entering the suburban Houston residence, but her efforts were in vain. (Read More)


Guns, Denial and Insanity (, June 21, 2014)

One would expect these senseless murders (is there any other kind?) to leave a populace severely shaken. Yet, judging from the rote delivery of and our numbed response to such news, senseless also describes our collective response to gun violence. (Read More)


The Speech President Obama Should Have Given About Guns (, January 17, 2013)

On December 8, 2012, Joseph Loughrey accidentally shot and killed his 7-year-old son, Craig, in the parking lot of a Pennsylvania gun store. On December 11, bullets fired by Jacob Roberts took the lives of Cindy Yuille and Steven Forsyth in an Oregon mall. Many were likely spared when his weapon jammed. Three days later, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, CT, it was Adam Lanza’s turn. His gun worked perfectly. (Read more)

The Killer in Me Is the Killer in You (, January 16, 2011)

Jared Loughner’s mass shooting was merely the latest and most highly publicized of three recent gun-related incidents that have, however fleetingly, captured public attention. When the final reports are written about these cases, authorities will note that Loughner, Clay Duke and Samuel Hengel each acted alone — but the truth of the matter is that they had plenty of help from the rest of us. (Read more)


The Year of the Gun (A version of this article was published as “Unrelenting gun violence doesn’t take a holiday” in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, December 13, 2009.)

When Paul Michael Merhige allegedly shot six members of his own family after their Thanksgiving dinner, it marked America’s second consecutive holiday season marred by mass murder. The tragedy in Jupiter, which left four dead, including Merhige’s 6-year-old cousin, was one of five multiple-victim shootings over the long weekend, capping a horrific year of gun violence. (Read more)


What Will It Take to Disarm Santa? (The Peaceworker, March 2009)

At eight years old, she may have been skeptical about the existence of a famous traveler from the North Pole. Still, she raced to the front door after hearing a knock and, lo and behold, there he was. But, in the fraction of a second it took her to smile, her uncle, Bruce Pardo, dressed as Santa Claus, pointed a gun at her face and fired – the opening salvo of a hideous rampage that left 10 people dead in Covina, California. (Read more)


In Omaha Mall, It Could Have Been One of Us (Orlando Sentinel, December 20, 2007)

When I first heard of the horrific tragedy that took place at a Nebraska mall last week, I thought to myself: It could have been me. What I meant, of course, was that I, too, could have been killed or wounded, had I been in the wrong place at the wrong time. A short while later, I had an equally unsettling thought: Had life given me a different hand to play, I could have been the gunman. (Read more)


Memorial stones for victims of VA Tech massacre include one for the gunman

Compassion for the Virginia Tech Gunman: Take in pain, vulnerability of others to initiate healing (San Francisco Chronicle, April 29, 2007)

Shortly after the carnage at Virginia Tech, 32 makeshift headstones appeared on campus commemorating the murder victims. Four days after the shootings, a 33rd headstone was added, memorializing Seung-Hui Cho, the gunman. An accompanying note read: “I am sorry that you did not get the help you needed.” (Read more)


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