Sunday I wrote about it being 15 years since my twin brothers murder and today I wake up to the news covering yet another mass shooting. This one occurred in Las Vegas with more than 200 injured and 50 dead. It is the worst mass shooting in United States history. I also woke to the empty rhetoric of politicians who say they are praying for the victims. Pray, if they actually do, is all they do. In fact, they do nothing or worse block those that try.
What motivated a 64 year old man to kill so many? How did he get an automatic weapon? Can you remember the last time we have had a day without reading about the tragedy that is gun violence or a month without hearing about a mass shooting. We average over 9 deaths a day from guns and a mass shooting every day. Each time social media is filled with hateful people that cannot, or will not, have a civil conversation about a serious topic. Respectful disagreements can help move people to common ground, but what is most often reflected in society is matched in Congress and the result is more dead bodies and more grieving families. The policy changes that are needed will not be easy, but they are doable without changing the 2nd Amendment. We cannot be silent in the face violence. We cannot let fear over rule reason.Embed from Getty Images
For those of us that have lost someone we love to senseless gun violence each new incident is a reminder that brings the pain rushing back. If you love your guns and the 2nd Amendment more than your neighbors then it will be impossible for you to understand my pain and the pain of every other person who has ever been impacted by a gun violence. Each year on September 30 I remember my twin brother who was shot four times (two in the chest, one in the side, and one in the back) fell at my mother’s feet where he died on my parent’s living room floor. The bloodstain on the carpet is forever etched into my memory. He was not killed by an intruder, but rather in an argument with our brother. Without the gun, he would probably be alive. The police called it a “family matter” and did nothing. In fact, because my other brother was never charged with a crime he legally purchased many more guns.
The argument that the 2nd Amendment is without limit is not true and is usually followed by the statement that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” It is reposted without adequate consideration to what this actually means. In fact, people who own guns are more likely to kill people either accidentally or intentionally. People with guns do kill people.
This year alone there have been:
- 46,593 incidents
- 11,652 deaths
- 23,512 injuries
- 545 were children and 2,242 adolescents (http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/)
- 273 mass shootings
- Guns were used to kill two-thirds of spouse and ex-souse victims of domestic violence, and
- Women are 5 times more likely to be killed by an abuser if he owns a gun (http://www.lcav.org/statistics-polling/gun_violence_statistics.asp), which may partially explain why men take no action.
In the civilian population deaths from firearms are believed to be a good indicator of firearms violence. The rate of nonfatal gunshot wounds is estimated to be 2.6 times the rate of fatal gunshot wounds. You can find the death rates from firearms by state at http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=113&cat=2.
The 2nd Amendment is our Constitutional right, but it does not mean that one should own a gun. I have the right to own a gun and choose not to because I believe they are implements of violence and are designed to take life and only bread evil in one’s soul. Yet this isn’t the only right we have that we can and should decline. Let us decline the right all actions that take a life – abortion, the death penalty, and war. If we value life then sometimes we make decisions not because it is our legal right, but because it is a moral obligation.
It is true that it takes a person to pull the trigger, but without a gun it is much harder to kill. You can’t kill over 50 people with a knife from the 32nd floor of a building and injure over 200 more. People do kill people, but people with guns are more likely to do so either intentionally or accidentally. “The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society” (USCCB). The sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person cannot merely be about abortion or assisted suicide, but must include protecting all life and that means stopping gun violence and all violence. My wish is for a day that no American chooses to avail him or herself of the 2nd Amendment right. Peace is an amazing feeling and it begins in our own homes and hearts. Put fear aside, love your neighbor, and choose life. Don’t let the lust for an instrument of evil that has taken so many lives and caused so much pain replace reason and compassion. Don’t let your fear win. Don’t allow politicians to continue to say they will pray, but never act. There works are lacking any evidence of faith.
Faith Without Works Is Dead
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17)