In the wake of another mass shooting, the sides are assuming their familiar postures on cue. Conservatives are circling the wagons to guard their 2nd Amendment rights; liberals are calling for legislative remedies.
Equally familiar is the ramping up of rhetoric. The right accuses the left of “gun grabbing,” as if any change in law is a sure path to confiscation, while the left accuses the right of “doing nothing” when restrictive laws are rejected.
But this time, as Texas prepares to lay its own victims to rest after the Sutherland Springs church massacre, our prayerful regard for the lost and the hurting is met with the bitter mockery of those unable to process that not everyone agrees with their belief that limiting gun rights is the answer.
If gun control advocates want to call for actions beyond prayers and good wishes, that’s one thing. But the open scorn for those expressions of faithful support brings the debate to hateful new lows.
“Enough with the ‘thoughts and prayers’ already,” tweeted MSNBC’s Joy Reid, echoing a growing wave of derisive intolerance from the commentary and entertainment wings of Twitter’s left wing.
“They were in church. They had the prayers shot right out of them. Maybe try something else,” added actor Michael McKean amid a torrent of hateful replies to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s prayer request.
I am prepared not to care if the guy from This is Spinal Tap is scripturally illiterate. But I do care if one side of the debate following mass shootings is going to mischaracterize and ridicule millions of Americans.
So to be clear: Those of us who turn to God first are not advocates of “doing nothing.” Many of us favor addressing the actual problem, which is not a gun problem any more than drunk driving is a car problem.
In this particular case, there may indeed be practical improvements we can make to the enforcement of gun laws we already have. Gun-rights proponents will always cooperate with initiatives designed to keep people with sufficiently alarming criminal or mental health histories from owning guns. It is absurd that we do not have a national or state-by-state database that instantly flags such people at the point of purchase.
But equally absurd is the belief that there is something magical Congress can do that will prevent the next Las Vegas or the next Sutherland Springs. In some cases, shooters will be previously law-abiding gun owners; in others, they will have a murderous intent that makes violating gun laws a tiny matter. In either case, the myth of the legislative remedy rings hollow.
That path involves invoking God to comfort the grieving, as well as showing greater love to each other, particularly the mentally ill and social outcasts who tend to spiral toward such acts. It involves living our lives as examples of a Godly path that has better answers for racial hatred, embittered marriages, gambling losses and a host of other real or potential motives for recent shootings and the ones that may follow.
The problem for many is that these solutions do not involve politicians strutting and crowing in a quest for answers that only they can deliver. Preachers of the Gospel of Gun Control are welcome to kneel at the altar of government if they wish, but others will choose to address the issue through the lens of a fallen, sin-stained world, calling on God to redeem it, and each of us.
That has the power to prevent more gun tragedies than any new wave of laws.
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Mark Davis is a radio host and frequent contributor to The Dallas Morning News.