In Texas on Sunday, more than twenty were murdered by a lone gunman flexing his “Second Amendment rights.” We barely had time to digest the last mass shooting. American life today feels like an outrage followed by a disaster followed by tragedy. We here at Obit are dedicated to looking at death in all its guises, but the kind of senseless gun deaths that have become a regular feature of American life pushes everything else into the background.
Our hearts go out to the community of Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the congregation of First Baptist Church. We cannot even start to imagine their pain. But we are not going to offer “our thoughts and prayers.” Saying “our thoughts and prayers” has become a verbal tic, like saying “gesuntheit” after someone sneezes, a mindless way of pantomiming concern. Even worse are the politicians who demand that we don’t “politicize” the issue. But after last week’s terrorist attack (and it’s hard to imagine that it was less than a week ago), those same pols were more than willing to “politicize” the issue, demanding immediate changes to our immigration laws, “extreme vetting” and other saber rattling. But if there’s a gun involved…Yet, we have a man who was dishonorably discharged, court martialed, and a known wife and child abuser, and he was able to buy enough weapons that he was “armed for war” (as the New York Times headline put it).
Even if you say that’s not a political issue, it’s certainly a social issue. The people who politicize it are the very ones who demand the rest of us don’t, turning one of our two political parties into a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA. This morning on CNN, one of the pundits discussing—yet again—how this could happen, blandly commented “he bought those weapons fraudulently,” as if that lets us off the hook. He was still able to buy them, with no one looking askance as he built up a frightening arsenal. And even as we are repeatedly bombarded by crazed men armed to the teeth (there should be a moratorium of anyone claiming to be “shocked” when these events happen), the NRA and their lobby in Washington shrug their shoulders, tell us that more guns are the answer, and wave the bloody banner of the Second Amendment. They continue to insist that gun ownership is a right that “shall not be infringed,” but manage to pass by the “well-regulated.” What will it take for Americans to say that the unfettered gun rights are not constitutionally protected and demand that that our leaders lead and do something.