Another mass shooting in the U.S.A.. Before we know the victims’ names, our screens are already filled with the typical polarized responses to the latest iteration of this uniquely American tragedy. Regardless of what we may think about gun control, the majority of us appear to have accepted that there is nothing we can do to stop this happening. Over and over and over again. For some, such as President Obama, this recognition causes frustration, anger and perhaps, despair. For others, this recognition causes frustration and sadness, but tempered by the belief that this is a necessary evil in a nation with a Constitution that includes the Second Amendment.
Is it true that there is nothing to be done? “What’s your solution then?” is the question I see asked in the comments below the Facebook posts scrolling up my newsfeed. And then the argument begins, an argument that is seemingly endless, exhausting and ultimately gets us nowhere. Apparently. I do not claim to have a solution. Ideas and hopes, yes. Solution, no. What I have on the morning following the loss of another 10 lives to gun violence are two brief observations, and one proposal. For what it’s worth, here they are.
- After every mass shooting, we talk about gun control. And mental illness. And the Second Amendment. This conversation/competing monologues appears to be going nowhere. So let’s start at the root of the problem. Money. As long as politicians in the U.S. need a trunkload of it to get elected and then remain in office, they are beholden to monied interests. And the NRA and the gun industry have very deep pockets. Until this country gets serious about campaign finance reform I don’t think we’ll see any change in the headlines regarding gun violence.
- My 11 year old daughter Maggie came into my study while I was reading the report of the shooting last night and asked jauntily, ‘So, what’s in the news today, papa?’ I turned to face her and replied, ’10 people were shot and killed at a college in Oregon.’ Her jaw dropped and she said, with a quivering lip, ‘Oh no.’ That is the response every single shooting ought to produce in us, but as the President articulated last night, we have become numb to such news, because it happens so frequently. And because it appears we have come to believe it when we are told that there is nothing we can do about it. But for Maggie, she still feels it deeply. Every single time. And that gives me just a little hope that we won’t become so jaded that this is no longer satire.
Immediately the news broke, the NRA tweeted this:
As someone who reads the scriptures of Israel, if there is one thing that the Law and the Prophets make clear, it’s that the God of Israel does not tolerate idols. Especially those idols to whom people are willing to sacrifice their children. Like Molech. Like Chemosh. Like the Second Amendment. Idols promised the hope of security in the face of all the peoples of the Ancient Near East had to fear: famine, drought, war. The Second Amendment becomes an idol when we believe that it promises security against all that we are encouraged to fear: tyrannical government, home invasion and yes, mass shootings. And while we continue to accept the slaughter of children – no matter their age – and tweet #2A! in response, then we are idolaters. And we are guilty of violating the Second of the Ten Words, which prohibits idolatry.
So, my proposal is this. Let’s counter #2A with #2X and call out the idolatry that accepts mass shootings as the price of appeasement of the bloodthirsty tyranny of the Second Amendment when it becomes an idol.
Lord, have mercy.