The Source for Parents


Arizona Shooting Tragedy

Main Point of Discussion: Anger is a useful emotion when kept in check and used appropriately, but when left uncontrolled, it can quickly destroy relationships and even human lives. That’s why God commands us to control it and even limit it to one day.

Vital Info Before You Get Started: (The following should help you contextualize this important issue so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)

  • On January 8, 2011, lone gunman Jared Lee Loughner opened fire on U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords during an outdoor event in Tucson, AZ, seriously wounding her; Loughner also shot randomly into the crowd, killing several people.

  • Say, “Let’s watch a short news clip during which an eyewitness is interviewed about the shooting.”

  • Here’s the link for the video:

Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
    Q: What’s your reaction to the interview with the eyewitness?
    A: (No answer; it will be different for different family members.)

    Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to his description of the shooting?
    A: It should horrify us. Every time we encounter evil in the world, the Holy Spirit in us should grieve greatly. We also should be reminded that courageous people intervened in the shooting, and that, as Christians, we are gifted with the courage of Jesus and can do mighty things through his power in our lives.

    Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this situation to actually living out those opinions?
    A: We must do good to others and not only keep evil out of our lives, but also confront it whenever it appears. We must be steadfastly courageous as well, relying on the courage that comes from Christ alone to intervene in all situations, especially during emergencies such as the Tucson shooting.

Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, keep engaging them.

For Deeper Discussion: (If your kids seem into diving in deeper, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)

CLICK HERE if you want to look at a quick training article on small groups and drawing questions out of young people—you may find much of the information applicable as you go through this subject with your family members.

Transitional Statement:

Senseless violence and tragedy of this kind usually leaves us in a state of confusion and even fear, but it is important that we process events that are the result of evil and humanity’s sinful nature so we can learn and grow from our experiences.

Parent Note:
Above all, don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide, primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.

More Discussion Questions:
  1. HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: Before we dive in, everybody take a turn and tell us if you’ve ever been freaked out by something that happened while you were in public.

  2. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Have you ever witnessed someone’s anger causing harm? If so, what happened?

  3. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you believe anger was one of the roots of Jared Lee Loughner’s murderous behavior? Why or why not?

  4. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you believe this tragedy could have been avoided if someone would have helped Loughner work through his anger? Why or why not?

  5. Read the following passage from the Bible:

      Ephesians 4:26-27 (Amplified)
      When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.
      Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].

  6. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What is the difference between anger and fury/rage?

  7. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How would your life be different if you never went to bed with anger in your heart?

  8. HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What are some specific ways this week that you can apply this Bible passage to your life?

Transitional Statement:
In the midst of this terrible incident, we need to remember to pray for the victims and all those impacted by the shootings. We also should take a lesson from Loughner, who let his anger give Satan an opportunity to gain a foothold in his life—to the point where he gave into murderous thoughts and actions.

Wrap Up:
Ask every family member to take a few minutes and verbally “fill in the blanks” using the following prompts:

    I usually lose my temper when…

    Someone who can hold me accountable for my anger is…

    One way I can make certain that I’m not going to bed angry is…

After your family members have answered the prompts, ask them to take a few minutes to pray for the victims of the Loughner shooting; also encourage them to ask God for the ability to control their anger and not give Satan a foothold in their lives.

Close in Prayer

Written by Lane Palmer

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