In the aftermath of the Washington Navy Yard mass killing, I heard one of the investigators talk about the thorough investigation that was in process—that law enforcement was committed to finding out everything it could about why Aaron Alexis chose to kill so many people, and how it was possible for him to do so. In my head, I was asking another “why.” Not about why he had done this horrible thing, but why should we bother to investigate every last detail. Will it matter? Will it finally motivate this country to think about guns differently? I doubt it.
Using the most recent CDC estimates for yearly deaths by guns in the United States, it is likely that as of 9/18/2013 roughly 24,680 people died from guns in the United States since the Newtown shootings (according to http://www.slate.com). That’s more people than live in the small city that Old South is located in, and the larger city, Augusta, just next door.
Is this an issue for people of faith? For the church? Sure it is. But, it’s hard to know where to begin, or what to do, when the problem appears so insurmountable. We are stunned by senseless acts of violence, but we seem incapable of moving our horror to any kind of action that is meaningful.
Jon Stewart, on The Daily Show, offered one of the most compelling, yet utterly and completely depressing, assessment of the situation we are in, where politicians will argue for the unwavering sanctity of the constitutional guarantee of gun ownership, yet look upon other provisions of the constitution (especially in regard to keeping the country supposedly safe from terrorists) as not quite so sacred. You can see The Daily Show piece here:
Unfortunately, I don’t have much of anything especially enlightening to share, but this is what I’ve been thinking about for the past several days, and praying over—that we’ll start to find our way to a more meaningful response to the violence that is part of our lives. I really don’t want to be so pessimistic, but it is simply overwhelming to me that so many horrific examples of gun violence—not to mention those cases of gun violence that are not horrific enough to make it to the news—cannot motivate meaningful conversation about reasonable gun control.
Silly me, I still believe there is such a thing as reasonable gun control.
Most of us—even Republicans it turns out—somehow are able to understand that there is such a thing as reasonable violations of privacy, in order to keep the country safe. I cling to the hope that we will get to that place where we can talk about and adopt reasonable gun control. It’s clear, though, that we aren’t there yet. So, another group of people has fallen victim to our ornery ways. I pray for their families. And I pray too for the next group of victims, as well as investigators who will tell us why and how—until the whys and the hows really sink in and push us to act.