If guns are the primary cause of these massacres (which appears to be how many people think, since every time one happens, we hear renewed calls for banning firearms), why is it that such massacres are exponentially increasing in our time, even though availability of guns has been roughly the same, compared to 50 years ago when these tragic events rarely happened?
Therefore, it cannot logically, sensibly be the case that guns are the primary cause; otherwise, the massacres would have been occurring at the same rate all along (looking back 50 years), rather than far less back then. Something has (clearly) drastically changed. Moreover, we also have instances of very strong gun laws that have no effect whatever on decreasing violence and murder, in places like Chicago.
Does anyone seriously believe that making various (additional) firearms illegal (I favor banning of “military”-type weapons) would have stopped this madman in Las Vegas from obtaining them? Are people really that naive? It would seem so, judging by the anti-gun rhetoric floating around everywhere now.
I would also note that many acts of mass murder and/or terrorism do not even involve firearms. The perpetrators use, rather, homemade bombs, knives, thrown rocks, machetes, automobiles, even airplanes and hijacked jets (9-11).
It follows that other causes must be in play. What are they (I can hear the gun control advocates ask)? I think they are very deep-rooted and complex — like everything involving a large, diverse society –, and will take a generation (or two or three) to weed out to an extent where we will see significant lessening of these massacres and societal improvement in general (judged by Christian moral standards). Here are what I believe are some of these deep-rooted causes, that I would submit for consideration:
1) Relentless secularization and opposition to Christian mores and values: especially in public venues.
2) Related to #1 is societal sanctioning of many sinful things, particularly the sexual norms of Christianity.
3) Breakdown of the family, as a result of divorce, the sexual revolution, and the factors involved in #1 and #2.
4) Glorification of violence (even if merely “fantasy” and non-“approved”) in music and movies and video games, etc., leading to a blunting of the normal human reactions to violence.
5) Rejection of Christianity on a personal level, leading to sin (which never helped anyone), meaninglessness, despair, and possibly, violence.
6) Devaluation of human life due to all of the above factors, plus corrupt forms of religion (most notably, jihadism) and extreme political ideologies (left or right).
7) Legal abortion and its philosophical and legal predecessor contraception: the notion that conception or “too many” children are bad things, rather than good things. In other words: anti-child / anti-life philosophies.
8) Substance abuse, leading people to not be in their right minds and to do things they would never do, sober or drug-free.
9) Poverty and rotten, crime- and gang- and drug-infested neighborhoods. The more we allow millions to live in those conditions, without trying to help their lot in life, the worse their lives and our society get.
10) Terrible schools, teaching secular and anti-Christian notions, and not helping children get a proper education, so as to advance and be successful in life.
11) Commenter Jim Brown added: “Don’t overlook the common denominator in most of the mass shootings: prescription anti-depressants. The one Paddock used carries a warning that it can cause homicidal and suicidal thoughts.”
Now, how do we change those things? We do primarily by prayer, living a consistently, profoundly Christian life by God’s enabling grace and the aid of the sacraments, discipling our children (and having many more of them: “demographics is destiny”), evangelizing; sharing the gospel and the Good News of larger Christianity, and working to change society for the better: to be more Christian, including changing laws accordingly.
History tells us that even the most corrupt societies can change. The Roman Empire (one of the most degraded and wicked in history) eventually adopted Christianity. The Church went through many periods of decadence and decadent sin. This was part (not all) of the reason why the Protestants revolted. The Catholic Church started seriously reforming itself with the Council of Trent.
England in the 17th century is a very striking example. John Wesley brought about a revival that caused huge changes for the better to take place. And that’s not even Catholic revival. But it was Christian and very real in substance and effect. Likewise, the First Great Awakening (1730s-1740s) and Second Great Awakening in America (roughly 1800-1840s) brought about tremendous changes for the better in American society. These things happened, and they can occur again.
Thus, we pray for revival and pray that large numbers of people will start closely examining the deep-rooted and long-term causes for where we are today. Complex problems that have been developing in society for generations; or indirectly for hundreds of years, don’t get resolved by chanting “guns” over and over or thinking that only one possible cause could be in play. That is clearly not the case in the present situation.
And (in case anyone is wondering): I don’t own a gun, and haven’t shot one since I was 11 or 12: a .22 rifle. I believe in the right to bear arms (as a protection against both crime and tyranny), and also that this constitutional right should be reasonably defined.
Photo credit: Photograph by Cory Doctorow (3-16-07) [Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license]