It is Easter Monday as I write this. My Holy Week, concluding with the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection Saturday night and Sunday morning, was wonderful. From Palm/Passion Sunday, through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter vigil, and Resurrection morning, the week was filled with glorious gathered worship.
And now, it is Easter week Monday. And there has been another mass shooting. I think the current report is five dead, including a police officer, and at least nine hospitalized. This time Louisville KY. Not a school (just a bit of relief in saying that, but not too much), but a bank building. Whatever their ages, a bunch of people are suddenly dead today from bullets.
We will hear some of the same words today (My comments in italics):
- “Thoughts and prayers.” (We need more than thoughts and prayer. Clearly they are not stopping the carnage.)
- “Let’s not jump to conclusions. Let’s wait till all the facts are in.” (What facts are we awaiting? The victims are either dead or wounded. Those are the facts.)
- “Let’s not politicize this and take guns from law-abiding citizens.” (Let’s work at making sure that only law-abiding citizens can purchase and keeps guns, through a rigorous system of background checks and testing. And let’s only have available guns for hunting or reasonable self-defense)
- “The Democrats just want to politicize this to take away our Second Amendment rights.” (Who is politicizing this? If Democrats are calling for laws to address this situation, I don’t see that as politicizing. If Republicans are calling for laws to address this situation, I don’t see that as politicizing.)
- “We can be grateful that more weren’t killed.” (That’s not much comfort to the bereaved.)
- “This is unacceptable.” (It is acceptable if we choose to keep accepting it. We are accepting it every day we don’t make changes.)
Two weeks ago today it was Covenant School in Nashville TN. In a press conference early that day, one official said something like this: “Down here in the south, we believe in prayer.” I didn’t get his name, as I heard it on the radio while driving. I almost needed to pull over. Doesn’t he think that Covenant School started their school day in prayer? Did they pray the wrong prayer that morning? Did they pray to the wrong God? Was God not listening that morning? What in God’s name did he mean by that statement (other than a cheap self-serving shot at northerners)? I live in the north and I believe in prayer. But prayer didn’t stop that shooting. Or the over one-a-day mass shootings so far this calendar year. And nearly a third of them have been at schools.
Whatever in the world the Second Amendment means (I have read it many times and I’m still not certain), it can’t mean the madness we are experiencing just about every day. What we have today is not a “well regulated militia.” If the Second Amendment means that we should have more guns than people in this land and they are being used to kill others far too often, then I am against the Second Amendment as written and interpreted. I am not for removing it, but for changing it; amending it. Making it sensible and reasonable. Making it so that this craziness does not go on and on while people mouth empty platitudes. The process of amending the constitution is there because no governing document is perfect. Our constitution has never been perfect. We amend the constitution to make our land and way of governing it better, “more perfect.”
When our rate of gun violence is greater, usually far greater, than that of any comparable nation, I am led to two essential and mutually incompatible conclusions.
- That we do not have a gun problem, but our people are morally worse than those of all other nations and that our mental health as a country is seriously worse than that of all other nations.
- That we have a gun problem. Guns are too readily available. These include assault weapons made to kill numbers of people quickly and efficiently.
I am compelled to believe that our country, the United States of America, has a gun problem. I am not under the illusion that tightening our laws for the production, sale, and use of guns will eliminate all gun violence. I do believe that we can seriously cut down the incidence of gun violence in our land. We have done it with cigarette smoking. We have done it with automobile driving. Reasonable laws will not change everything, but they will make a difference. I long for the day when we will say in word, deed, and action, this plague of gun violence is unacceptable and we will no longer accept it.