I Don’t Care Why Anymore.

Image: Law enforcement responds to a shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Spring, TX. (KSAT, via Associated Press)

It’s become a routine: first, a bare notice on the AP wires that “a shooting” has happened, more to come. Then the “more” comes: details about where it happened, a growing roster of dead, stories about the first responders, then, to fill the 24 hour news cycle, endless speculation about “the shooter” who is almost always dead, almost always male, almost always white.

Was he mentally ill? What was he angry about? Was he a terrorist? Was he something else? What was his motive?

Meanwhile, somewhere, emergency rooms are filling up with people screaming in pain, bodies blown to bits, lives shredded like so much confetti.

The news reporters count the tally: how many dead? How does this compare to other shootings? Was this “the biggest” in some way?

And I cannot help but think of the next “shooter,” collecting his guns and ammo, making his plans. We know that at least some of those men followed the news about other shootings.

And through it all, I want to cry, fling a shoe at my radio, and wail, “I DON’T CARE WHY HE DID IT.”

We have taken a national health crisis and made it into a drama. People (usually white males) murder (mostly by shooting) lots and lots and lots of people, and we debate when it is OK to talk about solutions, when it is OK to talk politics, and on and on about motive.

His motive was that he wanted to hurt people. The means was easy: it was probably a gun, which is easy to get and easy to use. The method: find a place where people are gathered, squeeze the trigger and let fly.

There is no mystery about the shooter, only sick fascination.

The real mystery is why we sit like looky-loos passing an accident, hanging onto the news for gruesome details, watching the commercials so we can get to the next segment, the next expert, the next scrap of information that doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

We perseverate over his motive, we perseverate over his story, and meanwhile there are people in hospitals with lives ruined, limbs mangled, futures lost. I don’t care why he did it. I refuse to care about him. I care about the people who are hurt.

I don’t have any solution to this. More control of who gets a gun? We seem to lack the will for that.

The only word I have that makes any sense to me: Idolatry. We have chosen, as a nation, to enshrine a certain kind of device and make unfettered possession of it more important, more precious, than human life.

I am sick at heart, and I have no more words.


For my follow-up to this post, read Our Orgy of Anger.

Common Ground on Gun Safety

Image: Gun trigger lock, available for sale on Amazon for $12.89. Yes, I’m giving them a free ad.

Today is an anniversary for the United States, but particularly for families in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Four years ago today, a deeply disturbed young man used his legally-acquired guns to murder 20 small children and six educators in what should have been one of the safest places on earth: their elementary school.

The agony of their families is beyond my imagination, because I haven’t lost a dear one to a murderer, and I was fortunate to see both of my sons grow up to adulthood. The agony of our nation continues; we are divided on the issue of guns and their place in American life.

Some gun owners worry that legislation on guns will set us off on a slippery slope that will make it impossible for their families to be safe.

Others worry, with equal fervor, that without some serious gun control, we will continue to see unacceptable numbers of deaths from murders, accidents, and terrorist activity.

Both sides tend to discount the concerns of the other, which makes for short, angry conversations that go nowhere.

Some creative people are taking a third path: looking for ways to be more safe that does not require legislation. Emergency room personnel at Mercy Hospital in Kansas City give out free gun locks, no questions asked, to families who ask for them. I heard on the radio last night (but failed to hear details) about an emergency room in another city that gives a gun lock to families who come in with any sort of injury related to guns.

Seems to me that programs like these should be “mom and apple pie” to both gun owners and gun opponents. All the gun owners I know insist that a person can own a gun, keep it at home, and handle it safely. Perhaps the low hanging fruit of this issue is gun safety: making it easy and cheap for people to lock their guns away from people who shouldn’t be touching them.

That will not prevent another Newtown. What it might do, though, is to get us talking with one another again. How could it hurt?

לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל-דַּם רֵעֶךָ:  אֲנִי, יְהוָה

You shall not stand upon the blood of your neighbor: I am God. – Lev. 19:16