The lunatic in Oregon made some martyrs:

In one classroom, he appeared to single out Christian students for killing, according to witness Anastasia Boylan.

“He said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,’” Boylan’s father, Stacy, told CNN, relaying his daughter’s account while she underwent surgery to treat a gunshot to her spine.

“And then he shot and killed them.”

Another account came from Autumn Vicari, who described to NBC Newswhat her brother J.J. witnessed in the room where the shootings occurred. According to NBC: “Vicari said at one point the shooter told people to stand up before asking whether they were Christian or not. Vicari’s brother told her that anyone who responded ‘yes’ was shot in the head. If they said ‘other’ or didn’t answer, they were shot elsewhere in the body, usually the leg.”

Lord, have mercy. I hope that if I am ever asked that question by a crazed gunman, I have the courage to say yes. In an extreme sense, the point of the Benedict Option is to form Christians who are prepared to say yes, come what may.

The president said, in response to the shootings:

“We’ve become numb to this,” he said. “We talked about this after Columbine, Blacksburg, Tucson, Newtown, Aurora, after Charleston.”

He added: “What’s also routine is that somebody, somewhere, will comment and say, ‘Obama politicized this issue.’ This is something we should politicize. … This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America.”

Is that really true? Cards on the table: I am not a Second Amendment absolutist. I have no problem in principle with most gun control measures. I think we should make it harder for people to buy firearms. That said, I think it is an illusion that we “allow” this to happen in America. The Sandy Hook shooter used weapons that his mother had legally acquired, in a state that has some of the stronger gun control laws in the nation.

We also “allow” in America speech like this:

On an interesting note, I have noticed that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.

That’s from a blog post the Oregon shooter posted in August, about the murderer who killed the TV crew on live television. The FBI is looking into whether he was the person who posted a warning yesterday on 4Chan, telling people in the Northwest not to go to school that day. If you follow the link, you’ll find anonymous commenters encouraging the anonymous poster to shoot, and offering him advice on how to do it successfully. We let them say such things because of the First Amendment. Should we politicize that too?

It’s a terrible problem. I wouldn’t mind strengthening gun laws, and I wouldn’t mind making it possible for law enforcement to track down and come down hard on people who make those kinds of remarks online. For the president and others to believe that these things happen only because of weak gun laws is simply false.

The Washington Post has a good Q&A about gun violence in America.  Yes, America is an unusually violent country among industrialized democracies, but the overwhelming majority of shooters bought their guns legally, and gun violence is in fact declining in America (though instances of mass shootings have been rising). Says the Post, “Yet this country is a far less violent place than it was 40 years ago, with the rate of deaths due to assault declining by roughly half.”

It is a very complicated problem, and we seem especially unable to think clearly about it. I believe the president had an all too human reaction to claim that we “allow” incidents like this because he wants to believe that we can control them. It’s far scarier to face the plain fact that we cannot. That’s no reason not to take prudent and reasonable measures to prevent them, but to speak as if the only thing stopping massacres like this is political will is deeply misleading.

 

Advertisement