I imagine that I will write about Satan at some point, as some readers have asked in response to yesterday’s post. However, we should also talk honestly about guns. Guns are everywhere in America, as Bill Moyers notes:
There are some 300 million guns in the United States, one in four adult Americans owns at least one and most of them are men. According to the British newspaper The Guardian, over the last 30 years, “the number of states with a law that automatically approves licenses to carry concealed weapons provided an applicant clears a criminal background check has risen from eight to 38.”
Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and perhaps as many as 300,000 gun-related assaults in the U.S. Firearm violence costs our country as much as $100 billion a year. Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns than guns.
So why do we always act so surprised? Violence is our alter ego, wired into our Stone Age brains, so intrinsic its toxic eruptions no longer shock, except momentarily when we hear of a mass shooting like this latest in Colorado. But this, too, will pass as the nation of the short attention span quickly finds the next thing to divert us from the hard realities of America in 2012.
In the days following the April 2007 Virginia Tech shooting massacre, Pastor Ronnie Floyd posted extensively about the tragedy on his blog, “Between Sundays.” He warned the American church to “get serious” and to “WAKE UP!!!” Thirty-three persons had died, he wrote, and they each went to heaven or hell. He then urged his readers to get busy with evangelism because “death is real,” and the job of Christians is to “bring others to Christ” so that they won’t go to hell when they die.
In Floyd’s blog posts about the Virginia Tech shootings, there was nary a word about Seung-Hui Cho’s ready access to guns and ammunition. No comment about the epidemic of clinical depression in our country. Not a mention of the prevalence of hurting people in our culture, often adolescents who are shrouded in anonymity, lost on college campuses with tens of thousands of other students. In other words, Floyd said nothing about the systemic issues that become acute to many of us during times of tragedy. Floyd’s question is not how this young man’s mind became so twisted in his own mental illness, how he fell through the cracks of our societal net, or how he was able to purchase two handguns and hundreds of bullets with no more than a driver’s license. The question was about whether he and his victims had invited Jesus into their hearts before they died.
So critics can crow about me being insensitive for pointing to Stier’s comments, but he is simply one in a long line of conservative Christians who would rather supernaturalize these tragedies that deal with them in reality, where the rest of us live.