Payson residents who needed “to do something” in response to the two mass shootings within 24 hours this weekend, one in Ohio and the other in Texas, chose peace at an interfaith vigil on Aug. 5.
Carrying signs, battery-operated candles and glowing cell phones, more than a dozen residents sat in front of the former Carl’s Jr. to pray for a loving response.
“Can you imagine going to Walmart to pick up a box of crayons and getting killed?” asked one attendee.
So far, the U.S. has seen more mass shootings than days this year.
That is according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which reports as of Aug. 5, the 217th day of the year, there have been 255 mass shootings in the U.S. While no set definition exists for “mass shootings,” the GVA defines it as an incident where at least four people are shot. This does not include the shooter.
Pastor Sarah Allen from Payson United Methodist Church challenged those in attendance to “work together to be kind, loving and respectful.”
She acknowledged that many in Rim Country own or carry a weapon.
“We need to be conscious that many people have grown up with guns as tools, not weapons that kill people,” she said. “As a tool, a gun can make a difference.”
Allen once lived in El Paso and still has friends there.
She prayed for people to “take action in a loving way.”
“In the face of hatred may we show love,” said Worship Pastor Adriane Blanco from Mountain Bible Church.
The group sang “Amazing Grace” accompanied by Blanco as the sun sank into a pink sky and motorists honked their horns in solidarity.