Past time to take hard look at gun tragedies

Published 1:40 am Wednesday, November 8, 2017

It’s another news story about another mass shooting. This time 26 people died inside a little church in Texas.

We hardly go a month, heck sometimes not a week, without someone going on a killing spree. Is it even a surprise anymore? Now we simply wait to hear how many are dead and who lost his mind and took their lives?

The country was barely past our “worst” mass shooting in Las Vegas before news of the “worst” mass shooting in Texas history. There is shock and sadness mixed with anger that such a thing happened again.

People offer prayers for the victims, prayers for our country. For a few days, we collectively mourn. Then it’s back to business until the next time we stop to count the dead.

Some folks, including elected ones, call for discussions about gun control. Others, like our president, say it’s not a gun issue but about mental health. Still others cry that it’s not the time to talk about what is causing these tragedies.

My question is when is the time? Is there going to be a time for taking a long hard look at ourselves, at our country, and asking why this keeps happening?

I think it is past time to at the very least, consider the question. I surely don’t have an answer, but I know something is terribly wrong with the way we are approaching the problem of gun violence.

Yes, I hear arguments coming from those who fear that any talk about this issue will lead to someone taking away their right to bear arms. All of controversy swirls around these words, which make up the Second Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

True, I don’t know exactly what was in the minds of those who wrote those words. However, I’m betting they could not imagine the kinds of “arms” we have available to people other than a regulated militia.

What I do know is we do not need semi automatic weapons to hunt deer or defend ourselves from intruders. It is not necessary to have a gun that can kill 50 people in a matter of seconds in the hands of everybody who happens to want such a gun. That is just plain common sense and it in no way diminishes the Second Amendment.

Have we divided ourselves into such opposing camps that we can’t even rationally discuss this issue? Does it have to be an “all or nothing” solution?

How does our refusal to consider making changes to who has guns and what type weapons are easily available endanger anyone other than the folks making big money selling these weapons? Oh, add to that the politicians getting contributions from the folks making money selling these weapons.

When we get into a debate about this, it becomes something political, a position to take and defend. And, in the midst of defending, the reality of what happened in Texas gets lost.

The reality is while we go back and forth defending our positions people are dying. A mother died shielding her children from a gunman with a history of violence who went on a killing spree in a church. That is the reality behind the issue.

In a few days, the story of what happened in Texas will take a backseat to whatever is in the news cycle. Families will bury their dead and we’ll go back to life until the next “worse” mass shooting.

I don’t know how we take guns out of the political arena, but we need to find a way. We need to talk about this without getting so defensive, without it becoming only an exercise in defending our position.

You know maybe our president is right — this is a mental health issue. When it comes to discussing gun violence, it’s about the mental stability of our entire country.