Rage and sorrow
Tim Schmidt, founder of the United States Concealed Carry Association and publisher of Concealed Carry magazine, revealed to his followers in a recent email that a friend of his had confessed, “… on Sunday, I basically went to church naked …”
Schmidt’s friend described how he and another man had been standing at the back of the church talking about guns when the conversation veered to the Newtown, Conn. tragedy. “And all of a sudden it hit me,” Schmidt quotes his friend as saying, “I went to church with my wife and newborn baby girl …and no gun.”
Schmidt’s friend added, “I might have the mindset of a sheepdog, but on that day, I went to church as a sheep. I was unprepared. And I’m not OK with that …”
We don’t know what church Schmidt’s friend attended, but we do know that the Bible quotes Jesus in Luke 22:51 as warning, “All who live by the sword will die by the sword.”
Schmidt, who believes the best answer to gun violence is more guns in the hands of “good guys,” would probably interpret Christ’s admonition as a warning that those who kill will be killed by watchful citizens carrying guns.
A different interpretation holds that those who depend on violence to control violence will suffer more violence.
One response to the Sandy Hook massacre has been a call for teachers to be armed in the classroom. Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert told Fox News, “I wish to God (the Sandy Hook principal) had had an M-4 in her office …”
And Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who once claimed he shot and killed a coyote while out jogging, has publicly announced that teachers “should have access to weapons in their school …”
Those statements help crystalize the emerging conversation about guns, in the wake of public revulsion to the unimaginable horror that happened in a peaceful community not unlike Sonoma.
And there are parallels, of course, to the aftermath of 9/11, which drove America and the world to initiate security measures – and a war – that have profoundly changed the way we live.
Unfortunately, while we are now safer from terrorist attacks than we have ever been, we are paradoxically more likely to be targets of terrorist attacks than we have ever been, because we have failed to adequately address terrorism’s root causes. It’s hard not to conclude that attacking Iraq – and triggering the documented deaths of well over 100,000 civilians – has made us less safe, not more safe. Iraq is awash in guns. Is it safe?
And while fortress America is – in the long term – an impossible strategy to defend ourselves from attack – someday a suitcase bomb may well arrive – we would never argue that defensive measures aren’t called for. But our best generals have repeatedly told us we can’t end terrorism on the battlefield, that the real solutions involve politics and compassion for suffering populations and, ultimately, resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Contemplating the carnage at Sandy Hook elicits both rage and sorrow. It should also elicit profound reflection. It’s hard not to conclude that Adam Lanza was a deeply-troubled reflection of a culture of violence in which we are all complicit.
More guns won’t fix that.