There was a mass shooting last week that went uncovered by the national news. It took place in a barber shop in Detroit, where a group of men gambling in a back room were targeted by a gunman with a high-powered rifle. Three men died, all of them from a single family. As writers on the Huffington Post and Think Progress have speculated, the lack of national interest in this case probably stems from it happening in a struggling inner city, in a setting with which many affluent people cannot relate.
Want to hear another depressing story? How about this one: A vocal second amendment gun-rights advocate, Dick Metcalf, wrote an op ed for Guns & Ammo magazine in which he argued that no one’s constitutional rights would be infringed if we adopted some basic gun safety measures, such as mandatory training for all gun owners. Readers went nuts, and the Guns & Ammo editor ultimately issued an apology for the “mistake” of publishing Metcalf’s piece. Metcalf himself did not back down, lamenting the “one-sided social-media and Internet outcry” that prevented people from debating a reasonable idea. (If anyone reading this is convinced that unequivocal support for gun rights and resistance to any and all gun reforms is the only appropriate Christian perspective: Really? Since when is the cause of godly justice and peace furthered by the rapid and absolute take-down of anyone voicing dissent, no matter how measured? Jesus and his friends were dissenters too. We’re not supposed to choose the Romans as our role models.)
Meanwhile, it has been eleven months…Eleven months since the mass murder of children and adults at an elementary school here in Connecticut resurrected efforts toward common-sense gun legislation. About nine months since Katherine Willis Pershey and I, heartbroken and angry with what happened in Newtown, started using our blogs and Twitter feeds to encourage Christians to voice our support of such reform.
I am convinced that if a gunman had killed 20 first graders anywhere, in any town or city in America, that story would have made the national news. But I am also convinced that the concerted and continued focus on Newtown, the energy that town’s tragedy brought to gun law reform efforts (including my own), is directly related to the fact that Newtown is a beautiful, affluent, mostly white town.
But the people who remain most endangered by gun violence in our country, and by our repeated failure to pass even the most basic laws to regulate (not forbid, but regulate) gun ownership, are the largely non-white residents of our inner cities, who live with the continual threat of what Detroit Police Chief called “urban terrorism” by heavily armed residents of their own neighborhoods. Another sad truth is that our ability to discuss gun laws reasonably, to consider facts about what might or might not stem both daily urban violence and all-too-frequent mass shootings, appears hopeless given what happened to Dick Metcalf.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful… (Hebrews 10:23)
In support of the #ItIsEnough coalition in support of common-sense gun law reform, I post on the 14th of every month (the monthly anniversary of the Newtown shooting) about gun violence. I do not allow comments on these posts because, while I have allowed people to use my blog to debate the merits of gun law reform in the past, at this point I’m no longer interested in debating the issue. I am primarily interested in encouraging others to raise their voices in support of gun law reform, in the name of Christ. Click here to learn more about the #ItIsEnough coalition and what you can do to help.