Today marks the one year anniversary of the Newtown shootings. It is marred — if such an occasion can be made worse — by yesterday’s school shooting in Colorado. In my mind it is also tainted by the awful realization that America is letting itself slide into whole new dimensions of violence while doing practically nothing about it.
I am haunted by the remarks made a year ago by NRA president Pierre Le Peau, whoops, I mean Wayne LaPierre. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” Do you suppose the parents of Trayvon Martin would agree?
One of the many problems with the NRA position about protecting our schools with armed gunmen is that identifying and properly training the “good guys” is an enormous task, unimaginable except in LaPierre’s fantasy world. Another weakness is that the armed “good guys” at the school’s would have to be well armed, indeed, to be able to challenge gunmen with assault rifles. In fact, following the logic, we would have to put fully equipped military personnel in each school. A third problem, just as obvious, is that school’s are big places and it would actually take multiple “good guys” to cover them.
LaPierre’s logic, in fact, is the same as that which, written in larger script, created the awful nuclear excesses of the Cold War. Each side just keeps getting bigger and more destructive weapons to counter the bigger and more destructive weapons of the other.
On the other hand, LaPierre did point out a few obvious facts, such as that America’s idea of entertainment is is absurdly violent. I cannot conceive of a moral justification for playing some of the most popular games or for watching some of Hollywood’s films. We are creating a New Normal in which violence is considered routine.
To add to the absurdity, we call such entertainment “adult,” as if a mature person would ever play Grand Theft Auto or view a Rambo film. Such things are strictly juvenile.
Would gun control stop all killings? Of course not, no more than speed limits have ended auto accidents. But a step in the right direction is far better than LaPierre’s step in the wrong direction. Would banning violence in entertainment end violence in real life? Of course not but it would certainly reduce the pressure our society puts on our young people to value power over love and killing over serving.
Do we not owe it to the children of Sandy Hook and Columbine and all the other schools to take whatever steps we can, however small and however many are needed?
May the love, grace, and peace of God call America to begin again to be a nation and a people of peace.