Victims of the racially motivated murders at a Topps grocery store in Buffalo, NY are yet to be buried, when the news cycle was disrupted by the murder of twice the number of people at Rob Elementary School, most of whom were fourth graders . A quiet little ranching town in southern Texas near the border with Mexico.
The usually stoic TV news reporter regularly cannot contain himself as he continues to update us on the details of the incident. I went to bed crying every night, all week long, and woke up the next morning crying. It happens all the time, but we cannot accept it as any kind of new normal. It’s still the saddest thing in the world. I do not have grandchildren, but recently I have been promised that I will have them soon and already I am afraid to send them to a public school.
America is not safe. Mass murders have occurred more frequently in the United States over the past decade and with larger numbers of victims. It’s not just school, as you know. These are shopping centers, movie theaters, churches, synagogues, mosques, city parks, country music shows, gay bars, as well as our universities, high schools and elementary schools.
But there is a question here that must be answered. Why, over the past dozen years, we’ve had 288 school shootings, while Canada only had 2. What makes us so different? Are Americans inherently more violent than other Western democracies? Do we have more mental health problems? Is the racial conflict here worse than anywhere else? Do we have so much drug addiction, domestic violence, do our kids play more violent video games than anyone else? Why, why are we so outsiders to the whole world?
While there are countries that have a higher death rate than ours, they are generally poorer countries, often embroiled in civil wars. We have some of the highest mortality rates among Western democracies, but where the numbers are truly insane is how many guns are in private hands in the United States.
Most Americans like me don’t own guns. Only 37% of us do. But a few years ago, we crossed the threshold of having more guns than people in the United States. There are now 120 guns for every 100 people. Gun sales have risen sharply during the pandemic, and sadly they continue to rise sharply even after mass murders, especially mass murders in schools.
Gun sales after Sandy Hook went up far more than they did in the early months of the pandemic, as I’m sure they would be after this nightmare in Texas. What is different about the United States? Why is this such a terrible problem for us and hardly a problem among most of our peers in the world?
This is not a violent video game. Japanese kids play more video games than American kids, though I find it hard to imagine how they get the time. But they have virtually no incidents of school shootings or mass murders. Americans do not have more mental illness than other countries, although it must be said that politicians who attribute mental illness to our mass murders while actively expanding Medicaid, the primary provider of mental health services to the aged inhibit. Often seen as shooters in school mass murders, that’s too hypocritical to pass up.
I now applaud Beto O’Rourke’s controversial and widely criticized appearance at a news conference in which Texas Governor Greg Abbott was lying and preaching about the Texas school shooting. Beto was the first to say the word “gun” at that meeting and I’m glad he showed up and challenged the lies and propaganda. If anyone thought that Abbott was lying about mental illness and the deaths of 19 fourth-grade children, that Beto’s presence was objectionable in light of that lie, let me tell you that you haven’t learned about morality yet. Haven’t started thinking seriously.
We have learned the steps of a dance which is conducted carefully every time during mass shooting. We’ve seen this dance in public every now and then in the news of mass murders, especially in the ten years since Sandy Hook.
First Republicans and National Rifle Association spokespersons tell us that it is too early to discuss politics or policy. “We have to respect the families of the victims. Before discussing what needs to be done to prevent these incidents, we must grieve. ,
Then we get the sordid proverbs about how gun rules don’t work, even though they clearly work in every other Western democracy in the world. We’re told that the only thing stopping a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, when, again, after spending more than $3 billion dollars on armed guards, security gates, and rigid school infrastructure. Even then, a single kid can buy an assault rifle on his 18th birthday and pass through armed guards the same week and kill 19 children, 2 teachers, and injure 17 more, before one Good man could stop him with a gun.
So, then, why is mass murder a uniquely American disease? Simply put, it’s because we have too many guns. They are very easy to buy and there are very few rules about who can access them. It’s not complicated. The more guns we have, the more people are killed by gunshots.
As Stephen Colbert pointed out this week, we therefore have a relatively low rate of death from catapults. Guys, we have more gun shops than grocery stores. We have more than three times more gun shops than McDonald’s locations in the US! We have gun shops next to the game and toy departments at Walmart! So, well, we have more mass killings because we have more guns that are easier to acquire and have little more than symbolic rules or requirements.
But, the question arises, why do we have no meaningful rules? Why is it so easy to buy guns here? And that gets to the bottom of the matter. Because we have a political party in the United States, one of our two major political parties, that constantly strives to reform gun laws and save the lives of our elementary students, shoppers, music lovers, and church-goers. stands in opposition to. And that is the Republican Party. Purple states have democratic politicians who try to be on the right side of the gun lobby to gain votes, but just look at the numbers, the politicians who get the most money donated from the gun lobby are all Republicans, and of course Nobody gets anything like the lowest Republican senator. , , Ted Cruz… who, at least at the time of this writing, is worse than Mitch McConnell and I can’t even believe I’m saying that someone is worse than Mitch McConnell.
Last week I spoke in another “out of sequence” response in response to the inevitable overturning of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling that, for 50 years, protected the constitutional right of all women to make fertility decisions for themselves. Last week I asserted that the Republican Party had crossed the line and was no longer a legitimate American political party. And I’m here again this week to say more or less the same thing with a different perspective.
I have been a minister for 43 years. For the first 30 years of my life in the ministry, I never put a bumper sticker on my car. I never put a political sign in my yard. I was careful that if I criticized a politician in one party, I would include criticism of a different politician from the other party because I was determined to be nonpartisan. And you know what? I still insist that I am non-partisan.
It is not about political parties. It is about morality. But in recent votes regarding protecting women’s rights to reproductive health, and in votes this week to protect the rights of elementary school students just allowed to live, Republicans have voted in a block. They don’t break ranks. Not that McConnell and Cruz are uniquely evil. Their entire party votes together in such a way that I tell you they are no longer a viable political party in the United States.
It’s not about disagreement. It is not about political parties. It is about right and wrong and today it is about life and death. This week, for the 21st time, satirical news site The Onion repeated the same headline about a public school mass murder. The headline reads: There is no way to stop it says only the nation where it happens regularly. You and I know there is a way to stop this. It is stopped in every other western democracy.
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We need effective, sensible gun laws and the only way we can get them is to never vote for Republicans again. In today’s time it is not going too far to say that voting a Republican is voting in favor of killing schoolchildren and that there is no excuse left for that.