Let’s face it: We are a people living and dying in ever increasing numbers in a society that reeks of violence, especially gun violence. In other years, a large swath of society has been called the “silent majority.” Perhaps this “majority” is not only silent but also indifferent. Otherwise, surely this group would have somehow taken action to ban the sale of assault rifles to any one person. No one needs an assault rifle to go hunting. If the subject were not so serious and alarming it would be almost comical to see a hunter go into the woods with an assault rifle to fill his/her quota during hunting season.
We have just observed the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre (what else could we call it?) in Connecticut. Even after 26 people — 20 children and six adults — were killed and their families cried out for gun control legislation, nothing happened.
In the most recent catastrophe in San Bernardino, Calif., where 14 people were killed, legislation to control gun sales continues to languish in Congress. This has nothing to do with hunting or hunters. This has to do with people intent on harming others, some they know and most they do not. How many people must die before others take a stand. I’ve heard all the arguments: No matter what kind of legislation is passed, people will still find a way to get guns and do what they intend to do. Okay, but what harm would it do to expand background checks and stop selling assault rifles “over the counter” to anyone who goes “gun shopping” online or in a retail store or at a gun show?
Headline after headline tells a story of people in a society who no longer value life as a priceless gift from God. We are becoming afraid to gather in large groups, to go out alone, to ride mass transit, to do things without thinking about our personal safety. Children now do more than tornado drills; they learn about “sheltering in place” or how to respond to an intruder in their schools. Consultants are being called in to talk to building managers about dealing with threats and literal attacks in their places of business.
Listening to the family of the latest shooters in California, the man’s sister wondered aloud if she had called her brother or tried to find out how his family was doing if she could have stopped them. We’ll never know, and she will live with that forever. So will the families of those who were wounded and killed in San Bernardino.
The worst thing we can do is shake our heads and wait for the next attack because an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us, our way of life and our belief in the sanctity of life. We have to reach out to our neighbors, those we know and those we don’t know to support those who feel despondent or disenfranchised or mistreated. Maybe they have a right to feel that way; maybe they don’t, but we need to let them know we hear them.
We need to speak our truth as people who not only read the Gospel but live it. We must step outside ourselves and our comfort zones to let others know we are guided by faith, that we live in hope. Merry Christmas!
— Liz Quirin