SANDY HOOK AND THE COMMON GOOD
The common good was not served at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday. The massacre of 20 first graders, six staff, and one mother, plus the suicide of the killer, bloodied any notion of the common good shining brightly in the morning.
I wrote on my FACEBOOK that day (with slight modifications):
America loves violence. Violence is our candy. Military
commercials during football games, violent video games,
violent movies, violent rap music, bloated defense budgets,
9,000 murders last year, 17,000 suicides (both by guns),
more mass killings than any other nation outside of a war
zone, 40% of gun buyers do not go through a background
check, no mandatory trigger locks, automatic weapons for
sale, feel welcome to buy a 50 calibre rifle for a long distance
kill, shoot a deer with an AR-15 or AK-47, join the growing
militia movement and practice war games on the weekends
in preparation to overthrow the government, require teachers
to arm themselves as part of their job description. Merry
Christmas! Silent Night until the next massacre. Remember
Herod's massacre of the innocents and confess that it is
commonplace in America. We are the new Bethlehem.
O come, O Come, Immanuel. Save us. Indeed, You have
come. I pray we do our part to save Your world. Peace!
Many people ask "Why?" The police and news media are searching for the answer as they try to gather information from a smashed hard drive or the drawers in the killer's desk. What are the clues? He had Asberger's Syndrome. He had little sign of empathy for people. He was shy, withdrawn, yet intelligent. His mother liked guns and took him shooting so he could practice firing a Glock, a 9mm, and a Bushmaster Rifle. Why? So he could do in real life what he had practiced? For bonding? Practice makes perfect.
Why attack the most vulnerable? Why kill first graders? Why kill unarmed women? Why kill yourself? Man up! Face the wrath of the legal system and moral disgust of a community, nation, and world! But no. He must have known that there is no justifiable answer that would pass the common good smell test.
Fox News told its minions to not talk about guns over the weekend. Zero gun trumpeters in congress came forth for the Sunday news-talk shows. 0-31. True courage! Have the facts of the fruits of bowing to the NRA god finally revealed its paucity? Is there a glimmer of truth that unregulated guns violate the common good?
I emailed our Senators, Franken and Klobuchar, and Representative Michelle Bachmann, and told them to support "common sense gun safety" (thank you Jonathon Alter for this new phrasing of the way forward). I also contacted our pastor and requested a meeting to talk about what our congregation can do about guns. He said yes.
Listening to experts and studying the issue have led me to the following conclusions: 1) Jesus would not have packed a Glock, a 9mm, or a Bushmaster Rifle. He would not have told his disciples to so arm themselves. His intent about knives was for hunting and cooking, not for killing people; 2) The Second Amendment was written during a time when America was young and we had no real national army. So, citizens, arm yourselves. Yet, guns are part of our national culture and always will be; 3) It is rightly legitimate to place restrictions on guns for the sake of the common good. All people have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." When guns interfere with this right, regulation is justifiable; 4) Availability of all types of weapons teases the desire for usage; 5) Many aspects of our culture teach the legitimacy of violence. Violence is our candy; 6) Violence is not consistent with the will of God. Violence is Anti-Christ!
What can we do? Pray that we not use guns. Pray for the victims and those who would have a propensity for killing. Refuse to have guns in our homes. Teach the nonviolence of Jesus. Work for "common sense gun safety laws", such as: mandatory trigger locks, mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, mandatory locking up of guns in our homes, mandatory gun safety courses, elimination of expanded ammo clips, mandatory gun registration, banning sale of assault rifles, limiting purchase of guns, banning across state-line gun purchases. Stir conversation in our congregations and communities. Demand action from our elected officials. Demand action from the NRA. At least.
Enough! President Obama concluded his remarks at Newtown with this beautiful quote from scripture: "Let the children come to me. Do not hinder them, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven [God]." It is beyond time to make life safe and loving for all people. We are all Children of God. Now is the time to act!