I write this dry-eye and sickened at heart. No “thoughts and prayers” will ever be enough.
In January 2011, after the mass murder at Virginia Tech, I wrote a blog post called “Men with Guns”. Then some of the questions were “What happened, who is to blame… should the university have “shut down” sooner? What kind of strong police response would have helped? What have we learned?”
It’s this last question that haunts me, as we approach the third (third!) anniversary of the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Again, we are in the midst of grief, unmitigated grief of parents, family, friends. And fear grips us all.
At the root of all this is the influence of our gun culture. And by “gun culture” I don’t just mean 2nd Amendment rights. I mean the culture where violence is seen as a right and a response to any occurrence, no matter how slight or significant, no matter if it is real or imagined.
It’s a culture of violence that allows the disinherited, the deranged, the disappointed to think that the only way to settle themselves or their disputes is to take it out on someone else, not with fists but with guns, semi-automatic weapons, rifles.
And now there is the added flavor of terrorism - something that if we let it, will distract us from the very real need for strong gun control in this country. Whether it is a murder-suicide in a suburban tract house or urban apartment, or a mass slaying in a school or business, it is too much. Enough. Enough. We are so far beyond any “debate” about gun-owners’ rights and freedoms.
This is no easy thing. How can we ordinary citizens find a way to end this country’s and society’s addiction to violence and guns? It has moved, I think, beyond the need for mere laws and finding ways of fighting terrorism.
There is a need for a real culture change, a need to abandon the mythic frontier mentality that seems to govern men’s souls.
What have we learned, indeed!