I have strong feelings and a thousand thoughts about these mass shootings that seem to be occurring at the pace of a speeding assault rifle bullet. I can only bring myself to share a few of them here.
Not the time to talk about it…
I started to say something after the San Bernardino shooting when fourteen souls were murdered in cold blood. They said it was too soon to have the conversation about guns when the bodies weren’t even cold, so I waited.
Before it was the right time to address the issue, forty-nine more were gunned down in an Orlando bar. Again they warned against talking about stricter gun laws before the families all had time to grieve their loss. It would be opportunistic they said. So I waited.
Before the requisite time had lapsed, another fifty-eight were slaughtered and over four hundred were injured at a Las Vegas country music festival. But you’re supposed to give everyone time to process this before you address causes. Let’s bury our dead and bandage our wounded before we look at sane solutions for all this bloodshed on American soil.* President Trump didn’t waste any time politicizing it just hours from the shooting, saying that it wasn’t a “guns situation.”
More love for guns than for people?
We’re reminded that we have a Constitution that guarantees the right to bear arms, so if you suggest any sort of restrictions on who can get guns and what kinds they can get, you’re branded as unpatriotic. For the record, I’m a proud American. I love our country. But I’ll tell you what I love more than America is Americans! I love the people of our country more than the country itself and I want our people to quit murdering our people in mass. We downsize our love for guns and supersize our love for human beings.
I understand the attraction to recreational gun use. I don’t begrudge anyone their target shooting or hunting. But heroin, LSD used to be legal, along with tobacco smoking in restaurants and planes until the majority determined that, though it would inconvenience smokers, shooters, and trippers to curtail their enjoyment of their drug of choice, for public safety, they put the kybosh on them.
With heroin and LSD we didn’t blame it on the crazy people who can’t self-regulate their use. We didn’t keep them on the market and just prevent mentally unstable people from getting them. We made them illegal to everyone. I apply this, not to all guns, but to the quantity and types that can do so much damage in such a short time.
My point is this. Sometimes we have to bite the bullet (pun intended) and limit our own liberty for the sake of others. If you enjoy your semi-automatic rifle, but the majority deems that your particular gun or ammunition poses a risk to the public, then, as a concerned citizen, you’d have to sacrifice your hobby for the greater good. Human life outweighs your right to your hobby, and you should gladly lay it down for the sake of others. (Again, don’t freak out, I’m not talking about all your guns, but the quantity and types of them that can kill a lot of people in a New York minute.)
When is the time?
Back to me being guilted into waiting to say something because wasn’t the right time. Take a breath they said, and before I could exhale it happened again––twenty-six massacred while worshipping in their rural church service in Texas! Another crazed killer with an arsenal of killing devices murdered men, women, and children while they worshipped. Don’t talk about limiting access to guns or about the kinds of guns that should be allowed on the shelves at Sports R Us they said. Not yet.
The day after this shooting I heard a right-wing radio talk show host say, “Can you imagine how many people would have died had the neighbor not had a gun”? Then he went on to extoll the virtue of gun ownership in our country. Wait. I thought we were supposed to wait, that it would be insensitive to bring up politics at a time like this.
So, again, I hit the pause for a more appropriate moment.
That time hadn’t come when nineteen year old Nikolas Cruz, heavily armed with an AR-15, tactical gear, and “countless magazines” of ammo attacked students and teachers at the Florida Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as classes were ending for the day, killing seventeen and injuring many others.
You think it might be time to say something? Have we had enough?
The government is coming!
Trying to converse with some folks about stricter gun laws is fruitless because they can’t help but whip out the slippery slope argument where at the bottom of the hill, government employees wait to take all your guns away. Give me a break! That’s just a fear tactic to sell more guns. And it worked.
“Buy Your Assault Weapons Here!”
Before anyone’s heart misses a beat, I’m aware that the “AR” in AR-15 doesn’t stand for “assault rifle,” and the “15” is not designated as such in most states (although California does). I’m also aware that there are more than 4 million of these semi-automatic weapons in the U.S. and 8 million M-16s! Does that seem a little “overkill” to anyone else? For a list of the mass shootings using AR-15s see this…
What boggles my mind is people’s fascination with these weapons and how you can just show up at a gun show or convention without a background check and buy nearly everything you’re little heart desires.
It’s the politicians on both sides of the isle that live in the back pocket of the NRA and turn a blind eye to sane limitations on gun distribution that disappoint me most. It’s the hiding behind silly slogans like, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people,” that leave me incredulous.
Crazy people or crazy gun laws?
Then there’s the blame laid entirely at the feet of the mental health of the shooters that I find insane (pun intended). Don’t get me wrong, people with mental health issues should absolutely not have access to guns, but putting all our eggs in that basket is another NRA red herring. (My mix of metaphors notwithstanding, a smelly fish in a little girl’s pretty Easter basket might just fit here.) That is to say, though we have to tighten the laws regarding people with mental problems getting guns, the problem with gun violence cannot be solved entirely this way.
The governor of Florida said that the goal was to “make sure people with mental illness never touch a gun.” But in Florida, the legal standard for blocking gun purchases is that someone has actually been committed to a mental institution or been “adjudicated mentally defective.” How many people fit under those criteria? What about depression or bi-polar disorder or autism? Do those count? Should we have some test for addiction or a narcissistic personality disorder in order to buy a gun? The insanity is in our gun laws, not primarily in our citizens or our children.
Too many too big guns in too many hands!
We have too many stinking guns in America (over 300 million!) and too many of them on the market that can kill a lot of people in a very short period of time! How is that not obvious to enough voters and lawmakers to change this? They still haven’t taken “Bump Stocks” off the market that make a semi-automatic rifle into an automatic one. If you want to know how to identify insanity, that’s it!
Don’t vote for NRA-funded politicians…
If we’re actually serious about reducing the deaths of our citizens at the hands of mass murderers, the most direct route is to reduce the type and quantity of guns and ammunition that people can purchase and lug around at church picnics. Come, people. Let’s tell our lawmakers that we don’t vote for people who love NRA donations than they do our citizens!
*I only referenced the mass shootings where great numbers were killed, but take a look at the appalling numbers of them that have occurred since the 1980s.
I have some biblical thoughts about guns and violence that I’m “waiting for the best time” to share. Stay tuned. In the meantime, I highly recommend the “Advent Declaration on Guns.”
On a completely different note, i.e., saving lives rather than killing them, Reaching Rahab: Joining God in His Quest for Friends is now available. I hope you’ll read it and share it.