One week. Three Shootings. Zero Action on Gun Violence.

16 Feb, 24

Dear Friends, 

It has been a horrific week for gun violence in America, from Kansas City to Atlanta to right here in our backyard at Lakewood Church. There are no words to describe the disgust that I felt to witness innocent people seeking solace in a place of worship only to be thrust into a life-altering nightmare. The pain they endure resonates throughout our community.

In the aftermath of such senseless violence, we collectively struggle to understand why people would commit such heinous acts.  While the "why" may elude us, the "how" is glaringly evident.

Unchecked access to weapons of war and the absence of red flag laws in Texas have fostered an environment conducive to these tragedies. As gun violence escalates, our state's response has been a regressive weakening of gun laws and a blatant disregard for common-sense measures supported by the majority of Texans while action stalls at the national level. Our state leaders have made obtaining a firearm in Texas easier than ever. And it’s harder than ever for local authorities to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Until our state and national leaders act, these events will happen again and again. They must muster the courage to enact meaningful gun reforms. This includes passing a red-flag law and banning assault weapons, a move long overdue.

Despite state and federal inaction, we are taking bold action on gun violence at the local level with strategic and comprehensive approaches to advance community safety. Our gun buybacks have taken over 4,000 guns off the street. Our Holistic Assistance Response Team (HART) frees up law enforcement to focus on serious calls by sending first responders trained in behavioral health and crisis intervention to respond to non-emergency 911 calls related to mental health, social welfare, and substance use.  Our Community Violence Interruption Program (CVIP) targets the root causes of violence with community-based interventions and has helped prevent at least 26 shootings since it started in 2021.

Everyone deserves the right to feel secure in their home, school, and community, liberated from the looming threat of gun violence. Regrettably, that right was ripped away from the parishioners at Lakewood this weekend. These survivors could be your neighbors, friends, co-workers, or colleagues – their lives forever altered.

We owe it to our neighbors not to allow this to become just another event that fades from our collective memory.  

We must stand up as a community to prevent gun violence and demand that our leaders at every level of government take bold action to get guns off our streets and out of dangerous hands.


Rodney Ellis