Another School Shooting in the U.S.A.

Yesterday’s events at Parkland, Florida, have saddened us all. There is always something peculiarly shocking about the loss of young lives, and as we pray for the dead and injured, our hearts go out to the bereaved and shocked parents. Inevitably, there will be calls for better gun control in the U.S.; and equally inevitably, there will be opposition from the N.R.A. and from U.S. citizens who believe that any change in the law would be a violation of their rights.

As an Englishwoman, I have to admit that I simply do not understand how any nation can justify the kind of gun policy we see in the States, nor the fundamentally unhistorical basis of its present formulation. The armed militias of the eighteenth century did not have access to semi-automatic weapons. The kind of mass shooting that occurred yesterday could not have taken place in the way it did had the perpetrator used an eighteenth century gun, with its slow loading and slow firing mechanisms. That, however, is a technicality. The underlying problem for me, as for so many others, is what causes anyone to take up a gun and shoot others because of some sort of private grievance (I am assuming that there is no history of mental illness involved); and why anyone should advocate that more guns are needed for protection, rather than gun controls, including more thorough background checks. I do not know; I do not understand; and I am unimpressed by the simplistic answers that are flooding over Social Media.

One aspect of Lent is being honest about ourselves and what we do. This morning I am sure there are many in the U.S.A. who are thinking about their country’s gun policy. There are also many in Britain doing the same. After Dunblane, we made the possession of small firearms illegal, and we have not had to endure another such horrific shooting since. Is it enough just to be grateful that the government of the day acted swiftly? I think not. We learned from that experience, and I think we have a duty to say plainly that others could, too. I don’t believe in interfering in the internal affairs of another country, but when human lives are at stake, don’t we have a duty to speak up? Today’s first Mass reading, Deuteronomy 30. 1–15, confronts us with a choice between life and death, between following God’s ways and allowing our hearts to stray after idols. I hope my U.S. friends will not misunderstand when I say that idolising one element of the Constitution, and one with potentially such deadly consequences, can hardly be consistent with godliness. Please, America, cherish your children; don’t make it so easy for them to be killed.

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15 thoughts on “Another School Shooting in the U.S.A.”

  1. Well said. As an American college teacher, I take my responsibility for my students very seriously. Each precious soul is entrusted to me for a few hours each week. I find participating in active shooter training, and experience active shooter drills, to be quite distressing, but I dare not ever neglect this training, for the sake of those I teach.

    On days like this, I don’t know what to make of us. We’ve been reduced to believing that it’s not about whether there will be a shooting at my campus, but when. All I can do is shake my head.

  2. Just heartbreaking . I am mystified at the lack of action and normally would not comment on the politics of another country . But please … no more ….
    The shocking tragic waste of young lives , the agony of families whose lives are forever changed . May God be with them. May God guide and convict the politicians to act..and say No More .

  3. Sadly, a society that allows us to kill an unborn child is one where human life is no longer sacred and human dignity is lost. We have to start recognising that we are all created in the image of God, and that when we meet another person, we see Christ in them. Then perhaps nations and individuals will lay down their arms and start caring for one another.

  4. I does seem sad that the arguments for carying guns seem to be linked to freedom, democracy, equality and protection. The sad fact that these were denied the young victims will not be lost on many people but apparently will not sway gun lobbyists. It is unlikely to change policy in the US. I pray that people who have such terrible thoughts/grievances turn away from violence and seek help before it is too late. Whether an angry person kills one or many innocents (regardless of the means used) it is a tragedy for all concerned.

  5. As an American, I have to admit that I simply do not understand how any nation can justify the kind of gun policy we see in the States.

    Please continue your prayers. We so need them and our government is on its own trajectory.

  6. A few years ago, I was offered a job in the US. There were many reasons I didn’t take it, not least that it was 2 weeks before my wedding, and my husband-to-be was tied to the UK for quite a long time to come.

    However, the atrocious lack of healthcare policies (not least, adequate maternity leave and pay), the complete failure to implement adequate gun controls, and the bizaare state of the politics (national and international) all played into my decision. I couldn’t find any desire for a Green Card.

  7. As an American, I find my country’s idolization of the 2nd Amendment unconscionable. We have set it up as an idol! Spokespeople for the supremacy of the 2nd Amendment seem unmoved by the carnage of school shootings, and many of these very people tend to be ones with links to evangelical “Christianity.” They are the first to send their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims, but would be the last to do anything to stop this mass murder and traumatization of young people.

    • All we can do over here is pray and point to our own experience, e.g. banning handguns after Dunblane means we have not had another school shooting in 20 years. Surely there is a link?

  8. In fact the American gun laws have become laxer in the last few years, as most states no longer prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons, which can lead to a lack of trust and an atmosphere of suspicion. It seems to me to be a very unhealthy state for any society to live in.

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