My words will never adequately express the horror of the shootings in Las Vegas.
News stories report body count and hospitalizations in an attempt to convey the incomprehensible magnitude of the violence.
The number of the dead and wounded could describe a pitched battle in Afghanistan or, long ago, as I remember as a child the reports from Vietnam.
Nearly sixty dead. Over five hundred in need of medical treatment.
But of course, this wasn’t a battle fought on foreign soil.
This was a country music concert.
On American soil.
And the attacker was an unremarkable American citizen who possessed a personal arsenal of automatic weapons. As he so dreadfully demonstrated, weapons designed to kill human beings in large numbers very efficiently.
We don’t yet know why the killer opened fire from his 32nd floor hotel room. But we are reeling from the savagery of his actions and the random senselessness of the deaths. He indiscriminately maimed and murdered scores of complete strangers who were out on the town for nothing more than a good time.
While we cannot today find a final answer to the great puzzle of our national addiction to violence, perhaps we can nonetheless finally admit the addiction.
As frightful as the Las Vegas killings are, they join a long list of mass shootings.
Such violence is all too frequent.
The murders last Sunday stand out only because of the numbers.
And because it was captured on video.
However, these same numbers some times take place in Chicago on any given weekend and no one even bats an eye. It is not noticed because it usually is a one-on-one event. One person killed events in an abhorrent number of weekend murders… in a “gun-free zone.”
Let’s be honest. Gun Free Zones don’t work.
But we have to do something.
As a nation we have been at war since 2001. Since I was born, the years of national conflict nearly outnumber the years of peace. And I’m not including the Cold War, covert actions, and episodic military interventions. So many young adults do not remember or have experienced an America at peace.
There is no question that the type and number of weapons hoarded by the Las Vegas shooter made him exponentially more lethal. We can and should arrive at reasonable political measures that address an individual’s capacity to wreak such unspeakable havoc.
I not talking about taking guns away from anyone. I want a society that is able to have the freedom to have a gun to protect themselves or to use for appropriate hunting. I do not believe we need to pry the guns from the hands of Americans.
However, what I am saying is that we can do something moving forward. We need to keep these type of guns off and out of the free-market. We can stop people from buying a gun that can shoot 70 – 90 rounds in 10 seconds. Is there really a purpose for a gun like this? I think not.
In truth, we will never be able to clear our society of these type weapons already purchased. They are embedded and unfortunately will be a part of a society that will need to deal with the outcomes of such weaponry.
I am not naive, I know that someone will continue to make these type of weapons, no matter if we ban them from being sold. If a person wants to have a gun to use for evil, no matter what type of weapon they want… it will be available somewhere. Regardless what we do politically.
But we have to do something. We need to limit their numbers of availability. Doing nothing just deepens our accountability for these type of events from occurring.
And yet, even if and when we achieve a political solution, our spiritual challenge remains.
As a believer, I can no longer turn my eyes away from these type of events and simply say I will pray for the victims. While it is a good place to start there is more that we can do. To be followers of Jesus, requires reflection, repentance, and transformation.
As long as violence in any form is our only customary means for maintaining our security, our status, and our stuff, we will ALL remain… mortally wounded spiritually.