When will they say we gave up?
When will they say we gave up? Confronting and trying to seriously solve gun violence in the United States? Will they say when people like me who still understand responsible gun ownership but are very clear the need for automatic and assault weapons used for nothing but killing people should be regulated more strongly than receiving a driver’s license or deciding for women what to do with their bodies? Will they say it was when people like me gave up thinking reasonable and logical regulation of firearms is a fantasy? We fight so passionately for those yet to take a breath, and yet those who are here and breathing, we do nothing seriously concrete, no legislation, no regulation, to protect them from being shot at school, or in movie theaters, or at church, or grocery stores, or in public parks in Olathe, Kansas? See, if Sandy Hook wasn’t enough for us, remember Sandy Hook? Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown, Connecticut, was where kindergarten and 1st grade children were shot and killed at school – shot to death, 5 years old, 6 years old, shot to death, 20 of them, 5 and 6 years old, dead. The principal who confronted the boy with the AR15 and two semi-automatic pistols with 154 rounds of ammo in magazines was killed along with 5 other adults, teachers trying to protect their students, dead. We aren’t willing to take seriously legislative or judicial steps around that? Why? Because 5 and 6 year olds can protect themselves??? Really? So we don’t want to ban assault rifles that kill the lives of children already here, breathing, living, having life and experiences, but . . .
Will they say we gave up on it when pastors like me stopped having people in the congregation stand up as I read every name of every person killed in mass shootings during worship the Sunday after the occurrence? When I stopped telling their ages and a short sentence or two about a few of them and what their lives were like, you know, before they were shot to death at school, or grocery stores, or in Bible studies at a church. Because they were black, or because they were children, because they were at school, or because they were at the wrong park or the wrong restaurant or the wrong movie theater, or because they were the wrong politician from the wrong party at the wrong campaign stop at the wrong time when the wrong people were there. No one has yet refused to stand up as I randomly look at folks and ask them to stand as I read the name. A few have told me later how uncomfortable it made them. That’s fair. Recognizing and trying to make real that these are human beings not so different from you and me is pretty much meant to make us all awkward and uncomfortable. I get incensed and filled with sorrow that Jesus was crucified in what I might see as Rome’s version of a weapon of mass violence, should I not get just as incensed and sad about innocent victims in our chapter of history? And I don’t have a foreign empire on whom to place the blame.
Are guns the only issue in this scenario? No, no they’re not and please don’t assume I don’t know that. Are the lack of regulations and people without any training or mental health screening part of the problem? From my humble perspective, yes, yes they are. Access to assault rifles and more ammo than anyone would ever need to protect oneself is available to anyone anywhere at anytime. And clearly that’s the way we want to live, because nothing has changed, if we look back at the shooting at Columbine High School in Aurora Colorado April 20, 1999, nothing has changed. So it is the way want to live because if born children who can’t protect themselves are the collateral damage to us being able to have whatever weapons we want whenever we want without regulation, then so be it.
Will they say we gave up on it when pastors like me got so cynical they couldn’t write an encouraging and uplifting blog to cheer people’s hearts and help them think about the marvelous grace and mercy of God? That I gave in to my own shadow side that now and again simply decides hope that violence will be mitigated if not stopped is an unfettered and unsubstantiated fantasy and the sooner I let it go, the quieter I can be for everyone’s sake? I too, like happy-clappy light-hearted me in the mirror pastor way better. But I just wonder, when will they say we gave up?
One more thing, this song . . . makes me want to cuss a little bit, I just found it. Who decided there should always be music anway??? So maybe they won’t say it was today.