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These Photos of a Gun 'Commitment Ceremony' Are a Shocking Portrait of America

It happened in rural Pennsylvania.
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It's been two weeks since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead and 14 injured. Two news stories marked the occasion Wednesday: the Florida legislature took up the President Trump-backed initiative to place more armed teachers in schools, and a Georgia teacher barricaded himself inside a classroom with a gun and fired it (there were no injuries). The solution to gun violence in a country with nearly twice as many guns per capita as any other, and with 25 times the firearm homicide rate of other developed countries, seems to be "more guns." 

Wednesday also featured "a commitment ceremony" at World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania. At the event, worshippers clutched AR-15s—the same weapon used by Parkland shooter Nicolas Cruz, and so many other mass murderers—as they doubled over in prayerful ritual. Some attendees wore crowns of bullets, while one crowned worshipper clutched a gold-painted rifle. A nearby school was closed during the event as a safety precaution. It was an emblem of our national illness, a beautiful grotesque, a stunning reminder that a section of the American population believes "World Peace" and "Sanctuary" can be found at the point of a gun. —Jack Holmes

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This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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