There has been no shortage of opinions on the recent mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton. I have tried to steer clear of Facebook and news reports – not because I don’t care, but because I struggle with the posturing and lack of intellectual honesty on both sides.
It’s been telling how everyone is trying to deconstruct the lives of each of the killers, searching their associations, social media and manifestos for clues to find a common thread.
Everyone has an opinion. But one jumped out to me. Oprah, of all people, is maybe on the right track, calling these kinds of acts a result of “not having a moral center.” We’ll come back to that in a minute. But first, let me deconstruct a few things.
Are these crimes right-wing? Left-wing?
What is most divisive is to politicize any of these events. To blame the President today is the same as blaming the previous President. Mass killings occurred under both of their watches and every President before them.
The El Paso shooter was a white nationalist who specifically targeted Mexican and Central American “invaders.” This does sound a familiar tone, echoing anti-immigration messages from some on the right. He drove hundreds of miles to specifically kill brown-skinned people. But a less-told tale is that he also espoused overpopulation climate alarmism, entitling his manifesto after the Al Gore missive, “An Inconvenient Truth.” There are many ideas from the other side of the aisle in his writing. Sounding like an ecofascist, he surmised, “So, the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources.”
He doesn’t fit neatly into a box.
And the Dayton killer was a left-wing ideologue. He hated the election of President Trump, supports the candidacy of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and encourages people to cut the fences of immigrant detention facilities. And yet, he loved his guns. Can’t fit him into a box either.
The Gilroy killer was just disturbed with no ideology, as was the Las Vegas killer.
There are plenty of other mass killers who are Republicans and others who are Democrats and others who are just without any political bent. In fact, few of these killers are politically motivated. The Congressional baseball shooting was a rare exception.
Are reducing guns the answer?
This is not political – so please hear me out with the practical.
- Early childhood trauma or exposure to violence
- An identifiable crisis point in the weeks or months leading up to the shooting.
- The killers studied the actions of other shooters, seeking validation. It’s what some call contagion.
- The shooters “had the means” to carry out their plans, such as easy access to firearms.
Many have the opinion that if #4 were simply fixed, then that would isolate reasons 1-3. In other words, you might have all those things happen to you, but if you couldn’t get your hands on a gun, you would simply be frustrated – but not a killer.
But let me just talk practically here. In the United States, there are 390 million guns in the hands of civilians. Many millions of these are semi-automatic – precisely the label that often defines the “military-style” weapons that are the center of many talking points.
If any or all these guns were outlawed, how would that play out? What about voluntary turnbacks? How would that work? The sane and law-abiding would be the ones who would give their weapons up. The disturbed and criminal element would not.
And if the voluntary doesn’t work, then would we have mandatory confiscation? Does anyone imagine that would end peacefully?
From a mere practical standpoint, the guns won’t go away.
And similarly, no one public policy or law will stop a madman. And thus, there is no political solution.
How about mental illness? Video games? What does the data show?
A few more interesting facts from Intellectual Takeout.
* Mental illness isn’t a unifying factor. Lots of people suffer from varying mental disorders and very few of the commit violent acts.
* Violent video games aren’t the cause either. A policy statement by the American Psychological Association’s says this is a myth that cannot be proven.
All the theories being thrown around about white supremacy, guns, mental illness and “hate” speech are not supported by the data. And no matter what our feelings are, the facts don’t change.
Evaluating everything above, that leaves only a spiritual solution. The problem can’t be willed or legislated or forced out of our society. It must come from within. And that’s why I was encouraged to see Oprah Winfrey weigh in with a hint of what’s really wrong.
Back to Oprah
Oprah Winfrey recently addressed the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso that took the lives of dozens.
The famous talk show host said in an interview with Extra reporter Renee Bargh that the string of violence is because people are “missing” a “core moral center.” Watch it.
I understand the reason for Christians to view her comments with skepticism. She often readily embraces universalism and has seemed to leave her Southern Baptist roots far behind. But eternal truth will come out, perhaps in unlikely places. Especially when there are no other clear answers (See the first 800 words of this article.)
“I think what people are missing is a core moral center,” Winfrey said. “Churches used to do that. It was a central place you could come to and there was a core center of values about a way of living and being in the world.”
She added, “Until we can return to that, however that is, in whatever form, we will continue to be lost.”
This is a confession – a submission to the fact that everything else is failing. And I’m glad Oprah is saying this.
What Christianity offers this world
One thing all these killers have in common is that they devalue humanity. They care so little for themselves that they want to go out in a blaze of glory. They care so little for fellow humans that they will sweep up strangers in their madness.
Even a casual understanding of Christianity shows that Jesus gives humans dignity and value. We are told that we are made in His image, the reflection of eternity itself.
That’s why Christianity is the great equalizer – we all have the opportunity to receive His love without a qualifier. His gospel is an even playing field, leveling the rich and poor, every race, male and female, and from every corner of the world.
We are valued even in the womb until our last dying breath.
Why does our society rage? It’s because we don’t respect each other. And because of that, we are lonely and isolated.
Turn to Jesus. We have no other solutions.