The wee hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016, erupted in a fusillade of gunfire inside a popular dance bar in Orlando, Florida. A deranged individual, un-medicated and delusional in his devotion to a radical Islamic band of murderers and rapists turned a semi-auto rifle onto a crowd. he had to pull the trigger every single time, reinforcing his hatred of others and his disdain for the sanctity of life more than one hundred times, and probably closer to three hundred times. He had to pause and change clips repeatedly. He should have been on the FBI’s “watch list” but he managed to keep his head low and so was able to legally purchase the weapons needed for the killing spree.
In the wake of this rampage, were the names of the victims or the pictures of their grieving loved ones tossed out onto social media in sympathy and mourning?
We began to blame, one finger pointed out from us, four fingers pointing back at us. Ban Guns. Ban Muslims. Blame the Christians. Blame the Republicans. Call the President of the US names. Argue about the caliber and type of rifle(s) used. Promote bad news media coverage. Ban all AR-15s (one was not used at Sandy Hook, by the way. The killer used a .223 deer rifle and a handgun). Oh, heck, get vile with our words and fling accusatory and inflammatory phrases around.
I got swept up into this when I innocently asked an acquaintance if she really meant “ban all guns”? That just seemed rather extreme, even for her. Yes, she meant ALL guns, even those used for hunting or sport. She meant my guns, and intimated that I was as much to blame for the murders as I owned guns. I reacted in hurt and anger, and unfriended her (I have since apologized for my rash actions, and been forgiven, but we will never be friends again. I don’t particularly want to, and I doubt she does, either).
I repent from that and have refrained from diving into discussions that are heated and unfriendly.
I have checked CNN several times, reading the stories of the beautiful lives lost: the promises, the smiles, the friendships, the brilliant minds. I am a Christian. I have very dear friends in the LBGT community – and very dear friends who are parents of young adults in the LBGT community. I don’t buy the turn-or-burn preaching. I believe in love, the kind of love that lays itself down not only for a friend, but for a complete and utter stranger – even a stranger who might hate you.
I was that Christian, once, long ago. I was in the passion of having just recognized Jesus as the very individual Who did give His life for people who hated Him, and did so willingly and lovingly. I didn’t recognize my hate for being the opposite of His love – that came later, as I aged, experienced, and as I realized that we’re all pretty faulty humans – me, especially. I have no grounds to judge any other person on what I may (or may not) consider sin: if we are judged by the sins in our dreams, then I have committed all sins.
What happened in Orlando was a travesty. Did the gun do it? Would strong background checks have prevented it? No, and maybe. The gun itself (a rifle, actually) is only a tool much like a sword, a seax, a spear, a cleaver, or whatever other weapon mankind has raised against mankind over the ages. The violence would have happened without the gun. Suicide bombing, or a bomb like the one Timothy McVey made out of fertilizer, arson, poison gas. For a depraved mind, the options are endless. Where there’s a desire to murder, there is a way. Murder is committed in the middle east with suicide bombs, often reaping more than fifty souls in one act.
Is it Islam? Some I know would strongly argue that it is, but I have read Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. I have friends who profess faiths other than my own, and I know in my heart of hearts that these friends would in no wise raise their hand in murder, or condone it. I don’t have to read the Quran to know that verses can be taken out of context and skewed to support someone’s deranged agenda: I have the Bible.
The Bible has been used to justify murder and slavery. Those adherents to the KKK can probably quote the Bible better than I can, but that doesn’t make them any more right than I am. Just read Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Twelve Years A Slave (seriously, The Help is drivel compared to those novels, albeit humorous drivel – we all want to be Minny delivering The Pie). And those are all “tame” books on slavery.
The issues we don’t want to discuss have always been with us: human trafficking, flesh slavery, rape, torture, murder. I just finished a five book series by Octavia Randolph on the Danish conquest of the Angles and Saxons in the late 9th century. Mass murders and rape, all accomplished without gunpowder. Our human history is littered with the tales: the Khans, who left piles of human skulls behind. Tribal warfare in Africa and the Americas. Chinese and Japanese enmities over centuries, including soirees into the other’s territory and the rape and murders of the humans in the way.
This is what we forget: that as human beings, as races, clans, and nations – we war. We rape, pillage, murder. We attempt to annihilate people: Wounded Knee, World War 2. We try to annihilate religions: Judaism, Christianity, Paganism, Wiccan. It’s all about force.
Rape women, you can force them to submit and bear the children of the victor (even if the victor will not support the bastard children).
Force a people to give up their gods, but neglect to tell them why your God is better (i.e., He loves them and died for them while you killed them).
Blame the weapons: swords, spears, rocks, razors, maces, arrows, explosives, AR-15s.
Meanwhile, the victim’s names and lives pile up and we are too involved in our arguments to pay attention to who we have lost – or what talent. Take a long look at each person. This isn’t an argument about YOUR ideology, it is about THEIR lost lives. We’ll talk gun control on another day, when the air is clear enough for you to rant.