AUG. 8, 2019 – Sometimes our society breaks completely down, and innocent people are killed in the collapse.
This happened again this past weekend as people were shopping for their kids’ school supplies at Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and as people were enjoying their time in a popular nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio.
The death toll in the two mass shootings by Monday morning was 31 people dead, more than 50 injured, and untold numbers suffering. The gunman in Ohio even shot his own sister.
To all of us, of course, this is incomprehensible. It is difficult to wrap one’s head around the concept of 31 people dead and 50 injured, all at the hands of two people, and how the effect of that spreads out like a stone dropped in a lake, rippling outward and outward and affecting the lives of countless others. Ultimately, it affects us all, because it happened in our society, in our country.
To try to understand what could bring a person to unleash such violence isn’t something any of us can understand or comprehend, because none of us has ever made such a decision – to strike out against innocent others and try to kill as many of them as possible.
Politicians rarely fail to use such tragedies to move their political agenda: more gun control, different gun control, not enough enforcement of existing gun control, whatever the case may be ...
But then nothing gets done. Nothing. Politics get in the way of leadership, and solutions elude our country.
Of course, there are no easy, magical, one-size-fits-all solutions to stopping people from killing each other in the name of some twisted, elusive cause. People use guns and knives to do so. People use poison. People beat other people to death. People make bombs out of almost anything. And sometimes people drive their car or truck into a crowd. They want to kill others, and often there is no particular “motive” that police can identify. These “motives” rarely make sense even when one is identified. The media and law enforcement end up using words like “crazed gunman” or “insane driver.”
Stopping it all is not a matter of simply taking away people’s guns. And regardless, the guns are, so to speak, out of the barn – we now have more guns in the U.S. than we have people. The number of guns can be reduced, of course, with great effort, if that is what people want. But what kind of gun law would make us completely safe?
I don’t have the answer.
I do know that assuring the good mental health of gun owners is part of stopping mass shootings.
Giving law enforcement more “teeth” is part of it.
Public awareness is part of it.
Getting people back to church where they can be reminded of the need to love and respect their neighbors is part of it.
No one single move is going to stop the killing and make our society safe. A combination of many actions will help, though.
Virginia Tech. Binghamton. Fort Hood. Oikos University. Tucson. Las Vegas. Aurora Theater. Columbine High School. The list goes on and on.
AR-15-style rifles have been used in a number of these deadliest mass shootings, and we constantly hear that this is one of the most popular guns in our country. They are often referred to, even in some state laws, as “assault firearms.”
Their very name suggests why they were invented and what their function is.
We live in the “land of the free” and are given the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
This past weekend, in merely the latest mass killing, 31 people lost their “right to life.” Others lost their right to the pursuit of happiness, whether they were injured badly or lost a loved one.
As everyone has been saying, yes, it has to stop. Congress is on an ill-deserved vacation break right now, where members have the time and space to voice their political stances as they relate to these weekend tragedies, but from which they know they are safe from having to make any decisions or take any action – as they have been doing for years.
Congress needs to step up to the plate, for once. But all of us need to get involved, one way or another, to make our opinions heard.
As John F. Kennedy once opined, “In a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, ‘holds office’; everyone of us is in a position of responsibility, and in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities.”
He added, “We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.”
Forever pay attention. And then vote. Only then will you be the best kind of boss, and only then will you be able to say you were part of the solution. And, never forget, we need solutions.
Too many innocent people died the first time it happened.