In response to Sunday’s tragedy, a Lutheran pastor wrote that God was answering the prayers of the congregation, by allowing them be shot. Having never lost a loved one to reckless violence, I can’t condemn the use of religious coping mechanisms after a tragedy. But deferring to prayer and God’s will can pose a problem in society when doing so replaces concrete action and problem solving. Perhaps the parishioners were praying to be reunited with God (even the 18-month-old?). But what if Sunday’s events in Sutherland Springs were not only completely meaningless, a senseless tragedy, but also one that could have been prevented? There is a time for prayer, if you must, but please allow time for the facts:
The United States leads the world in mass shootings, second only to Yemen, and soaring above Iraq.
The US (coincidentally?) has more privately-owned guns than any other nation.
A child dies every other day due to gun accidents, the highest percentage of these being toddlers.
Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people in the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas acquired his stockpile of 47 guns and piles of ammunition easily and legally, here in the United States.
Devin Kelley, the perpetrator of Sunday’s mass homicide in Texas acquired his gun legally, despite having been court marshaled for an assault on his wife and child, and subsequently discharged from the military.
Semiautomatic assault weapons, the kind Adam Lanza used in the devastating massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, are essentially weapons of war. There is no reason they should be legal to purchase for sport.
A gun is stolen every two minutes in the United States. Just because you are qualified to own a gun does not mean that it won’t end up in the hands of someone who intends to commit a crime with it.
The gun control laws in Japan are the strictest in the world. There were six reported gun deaths in Japan, in 2014. Compare that to 8,124 in the same year in the US.
The UK has strict gun control. In 2015, they lost 50 people to gun violence. In 2015, the US lost 33,636 people to gun violence.
Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the US gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher. Although it has half the population of the other 22 nations combined, the US accounted for 82% of all gun deaths, 90% of all women killed by guns, 91% of children under 14 killed by guns, and 92% of young people (15-24) killed by guns.
Developed nations with strict gun control have outstandingly low gun casualty statistics, compared to tens of thousands in the United States.
The government banned military-style semi-automatic assault weapons for 10 years between 1994 and 2004, and deaths from mass shootings fell. Once semiautomatic weapons became legal to own again, mass shooting deaths soared.
So again, I encourage America to cope with Sunday’s tragedy in any way possible. But let’s not allow prayer and acceptance of “God’s will” to override research, statistics, knowledge, and action. Holding hands and bowing heads will not prevent guns from getting into the hands of murderers. I’m posting a link to seven concrete ways to help.