Another shooting, and I want something other than just thoughts and prayers sent. I want us to stop pretending that guns are not killing our children. I want us to have a healthy conversation around guns that isn’t co-opted by the NRA. The following is a piece I published July 24, 2015 as “Another Week, Another Shooting”
Another week, another shooting. And we pretend that guns have nothing to do with the violence we see played out week by week. If it isn’t a mass shooting in a church, a theater, a military base or a gang shooting on the streets of our cities, it’s a murder of family members. We glorify violence as a society. Mass killers receive a notoriety they have not had previously in their lives.
Sandy Hook School, Aurora Movie Theater, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Mother Emmanuel AME church . . . the names roll off our tongues. Tonight’s shooting in a Louisiana theater will find it’s place in the long litany of names. It has been said that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” The source of this quote is in question, but its truth lives in our newspapers. No matter how many people are killed, no matter how great a percentage of the population wants stricter gun control laws, there is a force more intent on profits than people. We will hear the platitudes again, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” So, week after week, we live with another tragedy.
Stephen Vincent Benet short story, “The Devil and Daniel Webster” is a tale of a man who sold his soul to the devil for material gain. I wonder if we as a people haven’t been selling our souls to keep the status quo. If not selling our souls, we’ve been worshiping the false gods of profit, fear and guns. Our law makers live in fear of the gun lobby and resist any changes and improvements to our laws. The NRA controls the congress while most of us wait for something to change. Laws may not have kept a gun out the hands of today’s shooter, but that isn’t true of others. Stolen guns are used every day to kill and to main. Yet, even the most sensible protection which would only allow the person who purchased the gun to use it, can’t get passed.
I grew up around guns with both a father and brother who hunted. Today’s guns are not like those of my childhood. Today’s reasons for owning guns are not either. The gun culture would tell us we are safer for our guns, but have trouble explaining how an Idaho toddler could find a gun in his mothers purse and kill her during a trip to a store.
I am tired of the clichés. I am tired of the deaths. I am tired of good people being killed by misguided youths, gang initiations, vengeful men and troubled young people . . . all of which are aided by too easy access to guns. I am tired of excuses. I’m tired of our nations lawmakers living in such fear of the gun lobby, they refuse to act. I’m tired of the pretense of sorrow, the false outrage by Washington, when next week, we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing, all the while preparing notes for the next heartache. The combination of Hollywood’s insatiable appetite for violent movies and our nation’s easy access to guns, makes another tragedy inevitable and soon.
“But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” Amos 5:24