Here we are, just a few days out from the latest mass shooting, and what have we learned? A systemic failure allowed the shooter to buy firearms. He escaped from a mental health facility. He was court-martialed, imprisoned, and then dishonorably discharged from the Air Force for a conviction relating to domestic violence.
There’s a possibility of a rape case. Murky and unclear on what happened.
We also learned that bump stocks, the accessory which acted as a force multiplier in Las Vegas converting a legal semi-automatic weapon into what was essentially a full-auto, are once again for sale. This contributed to the high casualty count in Las Vegas; just a short time ago and we’ve already forgotten. (http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/01/smallbusiness/slide-fire-bump-stocks/index.html.)
This restarting of sales, despite now long forgotten long-winded speeches on the floor of the House and Senate to ban such items, boils down to one thing; profits matter more the people.
The company that sells them, after what they must have considered a respectful pause (perhaps it was 58 days, one for each of the dead) ramped up sales again understanding the short-term memory of Americans and the inertia that is our government.
And just like Las Vegas and the incidents before it, scenes of prayers and candlelight vigils with imprecations to “Almighty God” for his compassion and intervention inundate the media.
Let’s get one thing straight. Not one prayer, in the history of the world, has ever prevented anything from happening. No matter how sincere the individuals gathered in prayer may be, not one prayer ever worked.
Now I know there be wailing and gnashing of teeth by the religious who’ll say I cannot know for certain what prayers worked. Nonsense. I saw hundreds of thousands of people, sincere people, pray after each mass shooting incident. While I wasn’t privy to their words, I can make an educated guess that many prayed for God to prevent such incidents.
God didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t.
It underscores the wasted energy and placebo effect that is prayer. Even my friend and co-blogger on the Heretic and the Holy Man, Kent Harrop, concedes that prayer is not enough. (https://greenpreacherblog.com/2017/11/07/when-prayer-isnt-enough/)
Although he still sees the value in the effort, I disagree. People prayed to end each and every war. Followed by more wars. People pray and the world continues to turn.
What we require is action. And in our capitalist society, economic action produces results. To change things, to motivate Congress and your fellow Americans to come to grips with the problem of gun violence, you must hit them in the pocketbook.
If profits matter more than people, there lies opportunity.
But what about the Second Amendment and the sacred right of bearing arms? It is a difficult aspect of America to reconcile. But, this article in the NY Times does a good job of putting the heart of the problem in perspective. Our willingness to allow easy access to high-capacity weapons is what differentiates us from the rest of the word. You cannot stop someone intent on causing harm, but you can limit the means available for him to do so. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/americas/mass-shootings-us-international.html)
The Second Amendment provides the right of self-defense to all citizens. To interpret that to mean carrying concealed weapons to and fro in society is a stretch. To interpret the Second Amendment to mean there can be no limitation on weapons possessed by a citizen, or the amount of ammunition, magazine capacity, or other factors is a fallacy. We already do it to a certain extent, albeit minimal.
The latest shooting underscores the issue. Aside from the fact he shouldn’t have been able to buy the weapons in the first place, he went to that church with fifteen magazines and fired over Four Hundred and Fifty rounds.
There is not one logical, rational, or legal argument to support an individual owning such level of firepower.
That is the risk of adhering to a strict, inviolable Second Amendment. Safeguarding innocent lives should trump any such interpretation.
To argue that the Second Amendment prevents ANY restriction on possession of firearms is nonsense. It is an argument supported by the NRA and those members of Congress on their payroll, and it must end.
Now, there will be a chorus of voices shouting, “but an Armed American Stopped the carnage.” “If not for him, more would have died.”
If we end gun violence with gun violence, we enter a never-ending cycle. An infinite loop. A zero-sum game. If we accept this, we must resign ourselves to future incidents.
There is one common denominator in most incidents we see from our home-grown shooters, domestic violence. And the history of our dealing with this issue is one fraught with inconsistency and failure.
We have prisons full of non-violent drug offenders, yet treat those who commit domestic violence in a much less serious way. Will jailing all those convicted of domestic violence solve the entire problem? No, but I think it a better use of prison space than someone caught possessing marijuana.
Until we recognize domestic violence as a warning sign and deal with it, i.e., lifetime ban on firearm ownership, forfeiture of all firearms, these incidents will continue.
Until we impose reasonable limitations on magazine capacity and quantity and type of ammunition, these incidents will continue. To kowtow to the argument that AR-15 type firearms are necessary for hunting and limiting weapons capacity infringes on Second Amendment rights is idiocy.
I have no issue with anyone of sound mind owning firearms. I have no issue with anyone owning an AR-15 if they choose that as a weapon for hunting or self-defense. I have an issue with the availability of bump stocks and no restrictions on owning high-capacity magazines and enough ammunition to fire 450 rounds in a church.
On the argument that an armed citizen was the answer to ending the problem, such a philosophy frightens me. The qualifications for getting a concealed carry permit are a joke. There are minimal requirements to show not only the ability to fire a weapon but the wherewithal to judge the circumstances under which identifying and firing on a target is necessary and prudent.
Here’s an interesting point, most Police Department, particularly in large cities, tell their officers not to resort to using their weapons off-duty unless necessary. The reason? Responding officers face not only dealing with an armed suspect but sorting out the good guys from the bad guys. Just look at the number of “Friendly fire” incidents where cops killed other cops. Add minimally trained civilians into the mix, and it is only a matter of time before a cop kills or is killed by a well-intentioned civilian. Thus, compounding the tragedy.
There are no easy solutions to these problems, but motivating Americans to do something about it may lie in my earlier point. Money talks. If the NRA isn’t willing to compromise, stop supporting them. If Congress doesn’t listen, stop contributing. If companies sell unlimited quantities of ammunition, stop patronizing them.
If we can sue automobile makers for defective products, if we can hold tobacco companies responsible for a “legal” products bad side effects, if we can sue McDonald’s for selling hot coffee, all of which has made things safer, then why not gun and ammunition makers?
If we do not work toward a solution to the problem, resign yourself to future similar headlines. If you want to waste time praying, have at it. But know this, it will fail, and more innocent people will die because we are unwilling to face our responsibilities.
One definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different result. That’s the history of prayer in ending these incidents. Hold your faith in any manner you chose, but human intelligence and effort are necessary to solve this problem.
It’s been a while since I sat in a church, but I read all the books. I recall these words, God helps those who help themselves.
Time for us to do something, save praying for the World Series where no one dies.