For God did not give us a craven spirit, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
II Timothy 1:7
Four years ago, after a troubled young man shot and killed three people in Isla Vista, California, Richard Martinez, whose son was one of the victims, made an impassioned plea for gun control.
In a series of interviews, Martinez called out the “gutless politicians” whose unwillingness to implement any meaningful restrictions in the availability of firearms was a major factor in his son’s killing.
"Why did Chris die?" he yelled in one interview. "Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris' right to live?"
The Onion published it's own commentary on gun violence.
I love the satire in The Onion, but this seemed in very bad taste. Above a picture of grieving college students was the headline: “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” The article is short and it isn’t funny at all:
ISLA VISTA, CA—In the days following a violent rampage in southern California in which a lone attacker killed seven individuals, including himself, and seriously injured over a dozen others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Tuesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said North Carolina resident Samuel Wipper, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this guy from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past five years were referring to themselves and their situation as 'helpless.'”Not funny, but precisely to the point.
Why are we unable to do anything? Why are we so addicted to guns? And I know that three of the seven victims in Isla Vista were killed with a knife, so we could also ask why we are so addicted to violence. But guns are the common denominator in mass killings over the years.
As comedian John Oliver once said, "One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns."
After 9/11 we made drastic changes in airport security. Basically, we search everyone. We won’t allow anything more deadly than a paperclip carried on an airplane. We limit shampoo bottles to 3.4 ounces. We won’t let anyone park anywhere near the boarding areas. We tolerate restrictions that once would have seemed bizarre. And we do all of this to prevent another tragedy.
The total death toll on 9/11 was 2,996. The number still looks horrific. Even one death is too many.
But more than 30,000 people die each year in America from firearms. We have lost approximately 500,000 lives to firearms since 9/11. This is madness.
To borrow the word shared by Mr. Martinez and the Apostle Paul, this is a craven madness.
Thank you for reading. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome. Please feel free to share on social media as you wish.
*An original version of this post was published on May 28, 2014.