Here we are again (352)

Like most people (but clearly not all – more on that below), I’m still emotionally and spiritually reeling from the massacre that occurred in Las Vegas last weekend. I have been writing my weekly eCrozier now for nearly eight years. I spent a few minutes this week going over the file that contains them. Unfortunately and tellingly, there are way too many past statements I’ve written about previous gun massacres. Part of me just wants to cut and paste sections of those previous eCroziers, insert them here, and be done with it. What does it say about us as a people that a bishop of the Church has to keep writing about such events; that I actually have a hefty file of previous public responses to mass murders done by Americans to their fellow Americans? Shouldn’t it strike us as more than absurd that I actually have a file of past responses?

Well, it strikes some as absurd. For others, it’s become the new normal. And for even others, they see it as the price we all must pay so some folk can have almost limitless access to all sorts of weapons, weapons not for sport or self-defense, but weapons designed specifically to kill as many people as possible in the shortest possible time.

Earlier this week I listened to a guy call in on a radio show. He proudly said that he’s a gun-owner and a former Army riflemen. He then said this about the weapons used in the Las Vegas massacre: “there’s only one reason these weapons exist, and that’s to kill masses of people.” He said it was “absurd” that these kinds of weapons could be in the hands of anyone other than the military or law enforcement. He ended by saying: “There’s no way that should be allowed in a civilized country.”

Yet, here we are again. Other, more civilized countries (it appears) have found a way to balance the “right to bear arms” with the basic “right” to not have one’s life ended in a barrage of machine gun fire. The 2nd Amendment is important. People who so desire should be lawfully allowed to have weapons for sporting purposes and for self-defense. But there must be rational limits to any freedom, especially when one amendment’s excesses can be deadly to the lives of others.

Guns handled responsibly aren’t dangerous to the public. Just as cars operated responsibly aren’t dangerous to other motorists, and yet we require licensing, skill-testing, and insurance for those who wish to own and operate a vehicle. We even put limits on the kinds of vehicles we allow on public roads, that is, we make it illegal to drive rocket-propelled vehicles on public thoroughfares. It seems reasonable and wise to require similar measures for gun owners as we do for motor vehicle owners (licensing, testing, and insurance). No responsible gun owner would be threatened by this just as responsible vehicle owners aren’t threatened by similar requirements.

And yet, I have no illusion that there will be changes to gun laws even after yet another gun massacre. The people who make such laws are controlled by powerful forces that will prevent any such changes. My hunch is my hefty file will be added to again in the near future.




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