“Nothing touched the trigger but the devil’s right hand.”
Two cities 1500 miles apart. Two young shooters, each equipped with battlefield weaponry accessible to all. Thirty families devastated by senseless, painful death. Over 50 more people wounded. A country recoiling.
Let’s break down the mantra again offered by the President and Second Amendment devotees who quickly and predictably send their “thoughts and prayers.”
Prayer is offered humbly. In prayer, we seek guidance. We acknowledge our human limitations as we seek intercession or forgiveness. Do politicians really think human tragedy escapes God’s attention absent their prayer? Does Wayne LaPierre of the NRA seek forgiveness for stubbornly and increasingly defending a Dodge City culture when he prays? How about Donald Trump? Does he disavow hateful words or commit to common sense gun laws in his prayers? Are these people changed by their interaction with God or do they merely seek ratification of their biases and actions.
Thoughts. Racists and gun rights advocates can honestly give much thought to the impact gun violence has on their priorities. They might think of the PR challenge facing them. They might think how to repel the expected public groundswell demanding that we eliminate access to battlefield weaponry. They might even think to wonder where all the “good people with guns” are when these shooting erupt.
My thoughts? I was raised in a gun family in the South, preceded by childhood years in Montana. Still, guns don’t captivate me. I personally safeguard against dangerous things—even legal ones. Seat belts? Check. Motorcycle? Gone. It’s a practical approach.
Why can’t governments in the US be practical? Waiting periods reduce passion shootings. Mental health checks disarm folks like the shooter in the Antioch, Tennessee church not long ago. There have been 251 mass shootings so far this year. (1) Why? The NRA resists any gun or ammo limitations and the politicians who receive campaign contributions from them do their bidding. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who received $1.3 Million (2) from the NRA in 2016 and has an A rating from them, has blocked the Senate from voting on any of the gun control bills the House has recently passed. (3)
Couple access to high capacity weapons with hatred and racism offered by those at the highest levels of our government and a deadly, toxic mix results. Just after the President tells US born legislators of color to go back to where they came from, bullets riddled an El Paso Walmart. The wounded ranged in age from a 2-year-old child to an 82-year-old. Patrick Crusius told investigators he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible. There are reports that some gunshot victims avoided medical treatment out of fear of deportation. (4)
I grieve the dead. I can’t fathom the grief their families carry. I chafe at the idea that we as a culture cannot put enough thought and prayer together to sharply curtail the frequency and severity of gun violence. I offer angry prayer to God seeking understanding of why this continues and how we—how I—can change our culture.
Steve Earle’s protagonist in the song quoted above excused the gun death he caused by blaming Satan. Who pulled the trigger this weekend in America? Us. You and I.
Only our action pries the devil’s hand from the trigger.
Chair, Williamson County Democratic Party