Thursday, December 03, 2015

Mass Shootings In America -- NO MORE

From KTLA News
Last Week it was Colorado Springs. Yesterday it was San Bernardino.  I didn't really say anything last week. But with two in a row, I have to say something, because mass shootings have reached epidemic proportions. 

Being from Southern Oregon I was jolted by the news just a few weeks back of the shooting in Roseburg. It's only been three years since we watched in horror the reports of mass killings of students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Each time there is a shooting the question will be asked:  well, will we do something? And the answer is no. When people ask for some sensible revisions to gun laws, they're stonewalled. We're told that the problem is mental illness. Of course we don't do anything about that either. While mental health issues in our nation need to be addressed, we need to address our seeming numbness to the growing problem of violence in our society.  Indeed, there is this sense of anger, resentment, fear, and incivility that runs rampant in America today. 

As I write this, I don't know the identity of the three gunmen who shot and killed fourteen and wounded fourteen others at a facility serving the developmentally disabled in San Bernardino, California. While most mass shootings involve a single gunman, this time it was three persons, well armed, with masks, and body armor.  I don't know why these gunmen did this, but let's call it for what it is.  It's terrorism.  Terrorism is a violent act that is intended to induce fear. Here we are, worrying about admitting Syrian refugees into the country, because a few ISIS operatives might slip through the cracks, even as we refuse to take any steps to deal with the growing threat of gun violence in our nation. Let's remember that by and large most of these mass shootings are undertaken by white males born and bred in America! 

My friend and colleague Paul Walters, a Lutheran pastor here in Troy, posted his response on Facebook.  He began his statement with these words, with which I resonate:

I do not want to have to pray for San Bernardino or Colorado Springs or Sandy Hook or the next six places where there will be mass shootings between now and Christmas. 
Advent is a season of expectation and anticipation. We prepare ourselves for the coming of the one who makes all things new. At a time like this it is easy to throw up our hands and simply give up any hope. I know that it's unlikely that the politicians will step up and do something to stem the tide of violence. They would rather pontificate about ISIS rather than deal with the true terrorism at home. So it's possible that Paul and I will have to pray week by week for the victims of mass shootings. We'll have to lift up those who are victims of acts of violence in our communities. At the same time we can, if we're willing, take a stand. It's unlikely that our voices will be heard. But we can say with increasing numbers -- NO MORE!

I wrote this yesterday evening as the news was still coming in to be posted in the morning.  We know now more facts than what I related. There were two shooters, a man who worked at the crime scene and his wife. Both were Muslim. They leave behind a six month old child. Why they did this, is still to be determined. The number of wounded now stands at 21.

The nation will point fingers. Some will want to make this about Muslims. Others will want to make this about gun control. The fact is this -- religion can have both good and bad influences. Guns may have their place in society, especially for those who like to hunt (I come from hunting country). The issue isn't necessarily about either religion or guns, but the propensity of some to resolve conflicts through violence. There have been 355 mass shootings in the country so far this year, with two occurring yesterday. That's more than one a day.  And yes, we keep saying no more, but that doesn't seem to do much good. Still, I will cry out -- NO MORE!

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