Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Saturday January 8 of this new and already blood-stained year, was not a day of peace. A regular reader of this blog, Kaysie McAlister alerted me to the horror of what happened in Arizona with a one line email. As I listened, numb and believing, to the TV blather of what triggered this latest spree of violence against a public servant and the innocents around her, it was impossible to digest the statements from politicians and pundits about the need to temper the vitriol as if this event was something that we could not have imagined. One would have thought we had no idea of the link between the coarsening of public debate and the descent into physical violence. You would have thought this was all new.
But it isn’t new. It is horrifyingly old. But we have short memories and an infinite, unhelpful capacity for spreading the blame so that no one is held overly responsible for behavior that crosses the line of civic responsibility. That’s why Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik’s unvarnished comments provide hope that some leaders at least will recognize that the barbarians aren’t coming: they are within the gates and we have to deal with their behavior, not pretend that we have all been just a little rude and rambunctious.
To do that, Kaysie McAlister suggests we start educating ourselves and our children so that they can in fact be the architects of the peace that Sarah Palin, for one, says she wishes for them despite putting elected officials in the crosshairs of her visual mapping for Tea Party victory.
This is Kaysie’s call:
Count the bodies, count the guns
“I would challenge any set of college students needing a project or thesis topic to research the number of gun deaths in this country in the last 10 years.”
Kaysie asks for answers to the following questions:
1. How many suicides in the military?
2. How many young people under the age of 18 are involved in shootings that are homicidal, suicidal, or are ruled accidental?
3. How many folks acted alone or in tandem with a buddy?
4. How many are male and how many are female?
5. How many ex-military folks, many of whom kept their weapons after discharge, shot themselves or others?
6. How many cops who die by gun are shot or shoot themselves with their own weapon?
7. How many folks bought guns when Obama got elected or when they feared he would be elected?
8. How many children “found” guns and shot themselves or others during accidents?
9. How many guns are involved in domestic disputes with couples, families, and /or friends and how many were “successfully” used in these disputes with people getting shot or killed?
10.How many brain-damaged folks exist who are the victims of drive-by shootings?
11. How many ethnic vs. white youth have died or been involved in gun incidents?
12. How many certified crazy people have guns and were involved in crimes over the last 10 years?
13. How many adults accidentally shot someone while hunting or got shot while hunting?
14. How many people shoot animals for fun and not for survival or government- sanctioned eradication?
15. How many guns are involved in hazings or initiations in gangs, colleges, fraternities, sororities, women’s leagues, etc?
16. How many folks used a gun to protect themselves successfully against the “enemy” eg in a home invasion here in the USA.
17. Do youth or young adults who have skilled use of BB guns, pellet and paint guns get gun safety training and do their baby guns lead to bigger and better guns?
18. How many private militias exist in the US?
19. In any huge crowd such as a special event like on New Year’s Eve or at a huge fundraiser, how many guns would the police estimate are out there in the crowd?
20. How many folks resigned from the NRA in the last 10 years? Do they resign or simply fade away? How many joined?
21. How many folks with guns say “I would never use it to hurt myself or someone else” . . .until they are furious or seriously depressed? How many sound individuals who have suffered these pains have access to guns either immediately or in a day or two?
Kaysie’s questions deserve answers.
Pro-Life Politicians and Churches: Support Gun Control
But there is a larger question that needs to be answered about religion and the politicians who invoke it to explain their pro-life position, for example. Politicians who call themselves “devout Catholics” and others who choose to ride into public office on their Christian beliefs need to ask themselves–and tell us–how they reconcile their professed faith with their politics in ways that go beyond the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
How does one declare devotion to the Prince of Peace and advocate for the everyday right of ordinary citizens to carry weapons that can unexpectedly unleash so much violence on the innocent?
What exactly is Christian or civilized about this? What place do guns have in the civic square? Why does every pro-life politician – and every church—not support gun control measures with the same ardor that they oppose a woman’s reproductive rights?
They might think about doing so in the name of those who lost their lives needlessly on a sunny Saturday in Tucson, Arizona.