March 5, 2018
In addressing gun violence, embracing evil is no solution
To the editor:
As a nation, we used to be identified as a people who would do what is right, not because it was comfortable or convenient, but because it was the right thing to do.
Contrary to logic and reason, we would do it all the more so when it comes to us with great difficulty.
From landing on the moon to storming the beaches of Normandy and building the Panama Canal, we have done so much to demonstrate our uniqueness in the world, in intellect, courage and morality, to show the world that we can do what is right, and do what is impossible. We can no longer claim that distinction for us.
As a nation, we’ve turned a corner.
We have “embraced evil” as part of our solution to evil, choosing not to resist evil, but to accommodate it.
Rather than accommodating our schools, we are advised to “accommodate” potential massacres at the expense of meeting the needs of children and their educators, offering solutions to arm teachers with firearms and distribute bulletproof book bags to their students.
We are accommodating mass shootings, and its weapon of choice, the AR-15.
Do you see how confusing that is?
In a sense we are lumped in with those callous enough to tell the children we are not willing to do what is right for them, citing examples of gun violence as the reason, which are the very examples that illustrate what is wrong in the first place. The argument has us coerced into a position, stating that we, as a people, are not willing to act ethically. We are not willing to do what is right, having repeatedly been told that gun control is useless because it won’t stop a person from going on a murder rampage, so why should everyone pay the penalty when it’s just going to happen anyway?
That is the argument we are up against, along with millions of dollars of political contributions from the NRA as well.
So what is the next step? How will we act? Having an intelligent conversation about the problem has been pushed off the table time and time again. It may require the use of guns to take away guns, so is it ethical to do so, considering that our public discourse is locked in so much vitriol?
There is a lot we can do to address the violence, such as the registration of certain firearms, limiting access to guns for those who are at risk, and, yes, even prohibiting some weapons only suitable for military or law enforcement. Unfortunately, we are caught up in a situation where an extremist minority is controlling the debate, embroiling us into an effort to redefine who we are as a people.
When it comes to gun violence, we have more in common with Central and South America and less in common with Europe and Canada. Our murder per capita rate is abysmally high, placing us among the developing nations regarding gun violence, our distinction being the world’s leader in mass shootings.
We suffer from a poverty of violence, trapped in a lottery system whereby at any given morning a school, church or place of employment can be queued into the statistic.
Some people see this as collateral damage and have even gone so far as to berate and threaten the victims of gun violence on social media, as a means of defending their position as fanatical gun owners.
As a result, children, teachers and ordinary citizens are massacred, hardcore gun owners make fun of them, people protest, the NRA tells us that guns are not the problem and nothing gets done.
The cycle repeats itself, and so on, and so on.
In this context, I am reminded of Isaiah 5:20 where the prophet states, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil.”
Survivors of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., have been protesting, making their voices heard and paving the way for more sensible gun laws, yet their efforts continue to be derided by some on social media as the rantings of “Tide pod eaters.” In honoring their fallen classmates, they are rewarded with evil nonetheless, receiving death threats as well.
However, not all is lost. Florida Governor Rick Scott and other lawmakers have signaled a change to raise the minimum age for purchasing a rifle. Other changes have been hinted at, but more work needs to be done.
In our upcoming elections, please consider candidates who will stand up to the NRA and actively engage our nation in the process of adopting more sensible gun laws.