After yet another school shooting this week, some of the same tired old responses were being churned out as people debated doing something about the latest tragedy.
This week, police say a 19-year-old committed the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people.
Like every other school shooting, some of the same old comments started appearing on story after story and in conversation after conversation.
Some of them, I’m sure, are offered by people who mean well. But many, unfortunately, wind up being useless words that do nothing to establish a real dialog that might one day accomplish something.
Here are a few of them that I’m really sick of hearing every time this happens.
The answer is Jesus Christ.
If you’ve read this site, you probably already know that I’m a Christian, so you might be surprised that I’d be sick of hearing that.
A Facebook friend of mine posted a long rant about the Florida school shooting this week and he said Christ is the answer, adding that there’s no man-made solution that can solve or prevent these problems and that no laws can prevent such shootings if someone is truly determined to kill. More than that, he said that if a shooter were to “take him out,” he would be “free from pain, suffering, dispair, sickness and injury in the next.”
If you’re a person of faith, you may well feel the same way. And there’s nothing wrong with that per se.
But I imagine many people of faith still take reasonable precautions against loss of life, like locking their doors at night, wearing their seatbelts while driving, and getting regular checkups with a doctor.
I have to wonder why people who feel the way my friend does would bother doing any of that. If they are so confident in the next world, why do anything that would delay their arrival into it?
I suspect the answer is as obvious as it seems: as wonderful as the promise of everlasting life God promises happens to be, they’re not quite ready to leave this world just yet.
The reason we look, in this world, for manmade solutions is that there seems to be few instances in which God steps in and intervenes with a dramatic lightning bolt at just the right moment to take out just the school shooter and none of his intended victims. There are countless times, I’m sure, when God might intervene, but we don’t always see those instances and they could be attributed to coincidence. But we sure notice when it appears God didn’t step in to stop such violence.
Christ might just be what keeps most Christians from acting on anger and rage themselves. But no amount of praying is going to force someone to accept Christ as his or her personal savior. That has to be a decision that person makes on their own.
And for those who aren’t making those decisions, the quality that keeps most God-fearing people from committing a similar horrific act may not be there.
(That’s not to say — and it’s important that believers and non-believers hear this — that no Christian could commit such a crime or that only non-Christians could. I’m only addressing those Christians who believe that those who aren’t Christians are the only ones who could take lives in this manner.)
I’ve even heard some say that the parents of the students killed should take comfort in the fact the dead are now with their heavenly Father.
Maybe they should.
But try telling that to those parents right now, as they grieve the loss of their children took far too soon and see how they react. I’d bet it wouldn’t go well for you, which is why people are more likely to post such remarks about families on social media than deliver those comments in person. If they’d bother to put themselves in those families’ places first, they’d probably be a bit more hesitant to say anything that implies the family of the victims aren’t entitled to their grief.
We shouldn’t have taken God out of schools.
When did “we” do this, exactly? And, for that matter, how did we do it?
I’m not being facetious: I’d genuinely like to know how we mere mortals managed to give the Almighty an eviction notice from every educational institution in the nation.
We might have eliminiated corporate prayer, in which all students and teachers are expected to take part in a specific religious ritual. When I was in school, we said a prayer every morning and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Schools, from what I hear, no longer have the prayer and some don’t recite the pledge, either.
But that’s not the same thing as taking God out of schools. By the time I got to middle school, we no longer prayed. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t find times to pray on my own, one-on-one with God, on school grounds. And the way the Bible instructs us on prayer, that’s more in line with how it’s supposed to be.
If you think that the removal of a forced prayer is the equivalent of kicking God out of school, then your God is entirely too weak and limited.
The God I worship is all-powerful and all-seeing. He’s everywhere, whether you spend every waking moment of your life in a long, extended prayer or not.
I believe God was in that school with those victims and the survivors, just as I believe He’s everywhere else, too.
Oh, and by the way, while I’m on the subject, one of the things I constantly hear from the more “nationalist” of the Evangelicals is how much God prefers America to all other countries. God ordained this nation. The others? Not so much.
But everything America does is fine because, well, God created America. God has placed his favor on America, I’m told.
If that’s true, God must obviously favor our Constitution, the document with which the country’s founding fathers put things into motion. Since that Constitution dictates the separation of church and state, then God must have zero problem with removing prayer from public schools, since leaving it would violate that principle.
You can’t have it both ways.
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
This remains one of the most idiotic things said in the debate over guns, especially when it’s said immediately following a school shooting.
Did the gun kill those 17 students or did the person kill them? In this case, as with every other shooting, it wasn’t just a person: it was a person with a gun. That little extra detail, somehow, is always conveniently omitted.
The person chose the gun as the method of killing.
That, in and of itself, doesn’t mean the gun is the problem. But the fact that he did use a gun likewise doesn’t justify deleting that detail from the argument, either.
A gun was unquestionably involved. No matter how hard you wish to pretend otherwise, the rest of us haven’t forgotten.
If he’d used a knife, would people want to ban knives?
Closely related to the “guns don’t kill” argument is the strawman argument that seeks to substitute anything else in favor of a gun.
I heard someone refer to a terrorist attack in which someone drove into a crowd of people using a van. He asked why no one called for a ban on vans.
Maybe this somehow convinces people who are more interested in keeping their guns — which no one’s trying to take away — than acknowledge the problem that people are being killed. It doesn’t convince anyone else.
The most simple answer to this moronic question is that a van isn’t specifically a weapon. A gun is.
Sure, we all know that nearly anything can be used as a weapon: a beer bottle, a rock, a frying pan.
But a gun actually is a weapon: that’s its primary function. The gunman didn’t choose a frying pan, a knife or a motor vehicle or even one of those sharp Number 2 pencils as his method of killing.
He chose a gun.
Why do you suppose that’s the case?
The other day, I heard a Congressman from South Carolina talking about gun legislation. He said something to the effect that lawmakers needed to have conversations about the gun problem and what could be done to find a solution, but said he didn’t have a mental image of what that would look like, yet.
One has to wonder how many more times there’ll be news of a school shooting before that mental picture begins to form.