According to his uncle, Dylann Roof was given a gun for his birthday. Last Wednesday night, his birthday present made it possible for him to massacre nine people at a Bible study he was attending. This white, Southern man had been programed to hate, and then, thanks to our gun culture, he had been armed to express that hate murderously.
Now, I know most gun owners don’t commit murder, but enough do that a civil and civilized society ought to ask why we aren’t doing more to end this deadly epidemic. Like many of you, I grew up in a gun-owning Southern home. I have used a shotgun and a rifle to hunt, and that is not what I’m talking about at all.
The evil I want to name plainly is the fearmongering of mostly white, right-wing hate groups like the National Rifle Association that makes civil Americans afraid of engaging in an intelligent discourse about things like background checks, gun safety, and even collecting information about gun violence.
By the end of this year, gun deaths in this country will exceed traffic deaths. They already do in many states, and gun suicides in six states outnumber those who die in traffic accidents. Despite how highly we value freedom of movement and travel, we still have strict and strictly enforced traffic laws. You must pass a safety test to get a license, and you must get a license to drive a car. Why don’t we do at least that much with guns?!?
The real reason is that the NRA and other right-wing forces use fearmongering so effectively that Americans can’t even have a rational conversation, and they OWN the United States House of Representatives so completely that the most common sense law has no chance of passing.
No, I am not advocating that the black president take away your guns, though that is exactly how even this conversation gets interpreted in right-wing media. What I am urging is that sane people of faith have more courage when it comes to this issue and begin to create a movement to regain our humanity, if not our sanity.
Rev. Michael Piazza