Tears flow and the list just goes on and on and on. Today’s it’s a Walmart in Chesapeake Virginia. Over the weekend, Club Q in Colorado Springs lost five people with twenty-five others injured. Almost every day, there is a mass shooting somewhere in the country. From Kalamazoo Michigan to Buffalo New York, from Tuscaloosa Alabama to the nineteen precious children and two teachers who died in Uvalde Texas, the toll of gun violence rises.
And we pretend that guns have nothing to do with the violence we see played out day by day. If it isn’t a mass shooting in a church, a theater, a super market, a military base or a gang shooting on the streets of our cities, it’s a murder of family members.
Sandy Hook School, Aurora Movie Theater, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Mother Emmanuel AME church . . . the names roll off our tongues with more names added, Robb Elementary, the Pulse Nightclub, Club Q. 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, day by day 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 lawmakers live in fear of the gun lobby and resist significant 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 maim. This year some feeble gun legislation was finally passed, but one of the most impactful pieces of banning assault weapons did not.
I grew up around guns with both a father and brothers 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 today or tomorrow 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. It is just a question of where and when.
“But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24
May a day come, when we no longer need to shed tears for loved ones lost to gun violence, and all of us can live in safety.
A version of this post was first published on July 24, 2015 as “Another Week, Another Shooting” Since then, the number of shootings has only increased, and what was weekly, now comes almost every day.