My heart aches in the wake of Sunday Morning’s Pulse nightclub tragedy. I haven’t said much, haven’t looked for arguments or consolation, because this is just getting too exhausting. We’ve been here before. And the way things look, we’ll be here again. We have a crisis of inaction in the U.S.; we are bombarded with horrible tragedies just like this, and we are continuously satisfied with our wobbly justifications that doing nothing is the best course of action. Because we all have the right to go out and purchase a machine made solely for murdering mass quantities of people, even those of us who are mentally unstable, domestic abusers on the FBI’s watch list. Even people we are absolutely sure will use an assault rifle to murder people are legally allowed to buy an assault rifle. This is the definition of insanity.
Someone found a 1999 article on the Deseret News about a eulogy given by then-president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley. Hinckley was speaking at the funeral of a security officer who was shot on duty at the Family History Library. He had this to say:
“A way must be found to keep the mentally ill from senseless acts of violence. You cannot have an indiscriminate allowance of firearms without abuses. All of us cannot be held hostage by a few whose minds are sick and who lack judgment and reason. We cannot live and work in a bunker mentality. The very nature of our lives is based on our freedom to go and come while doing our work.”
Gordon B. Hinckley had a knack for simplicity in his statements, but also veered carefully around political issues. Maybe the political climate surrounding gun control was tamer 17 years ago, but this is pretty sharp language from a church leader in support of gun control. It’s unfortunate nobody heard his plea.
It’s not really that difficult. Of course, it’s complex, and there are many underlying issues–LGBT antagonism, religious fundamentalism, toxic masculinity just to name a few–but while we work through those, it would be nice if it wasn’t so easy for the most violent among us to access weapons capable of holding our entire society hostage. The right to bear arms may be guaranteed in the Constitution, but the stated purpose of the document is to ensure domestic tranquility. In that case, the Constitution’s irrational protection of firearms is fundamentally flawed, as long as we interpret it to include AR-15s and exclude reasonable background checks and regulations.