More than 30 dead and more than 50 injured from two mass murder attacks perpetuated within 12 hours of one another this past weekend in two different American states, by two troubled, active shooters, on the heels of another at a food festival in California that claimed three more lives just days before.
The U.S. – western civilization, finds itself in the grips of an age where seemingly random and murderous acts of violence are continuing to take place at an increasing rate, and virtually at any place, from churches and schools, to the workplace and areas of public gathering (e.g. clubs, city districts, festivals and concerts).
The country is becoming more dangerous by the day and citizens are struggling to find rational answers as to why such events occur, while public health and elected officials are struggling to find answers and solutions to stem the tide.
President Donald Trump called on Congress to pass background check laws for gun buyers in the wake of these latest mass shootings. Trump backed “red flag” laws that allow family members, employers, or other individuals to file a request to temporarily confiscate firearms from a suspected dangerous person.
That type of law if enforced, could seemingly help prevent an active shooter from carrying out his evil deed- again, if enforced. The mother of the hate-filled suspect of Saturday’s shooting in El Paso, Texas, called local police weeks earlier out of concern that her son owned a semiautomatic rifle.
Did the mother suspect her son was dangerous? No, but she told police she was worried about her son owning the firearm given his age and lack of experience, according to a network TV report. The problem was a public safety officer told her that because her son was 21, he was legally allowed to purchase the weapon. Texas did not have “red flag” laws that would have allowed a judge to temporarily confiscate firearms if the owner was considered a threat.
Only later, did Police arrest the young man and linked him to a white supremacist manifesto posted online just before the attack that killed 22 people and wounded many others at a Walmart.
If such preventative action been taken by Broward County school and law enforcement officials here in South Florida, Nickolas Cruz’s murderous Valentine Day’s assault at a local high school may have been averted in 2018. The key phrase is ‘May have.’
So, the gun-control debate rages on as a result of this past murderous weekend. Democrats and the left blame the NRA (National Rifle Association) for mass shootings and lament inaction on gun control (though Ohio’s governor just proposed a list of 10 reforms in the wake of the Dayton shooting). Republicans and the right stand by the second amendment of the Bill of Rights guaranteeing a right to bear arms and say that, “Guns don’t kill people…people kill people,” pointing to mental illness and family dysfunction as root causes of mass murders which are arguments which carry much socio and psychological weight as far as they go, as we shall soon see.
Interestingly enough, according to recent polls, most gun owners are non- NRA members and yet are favoring greater gun-control laws to some degree or another in the aftermath of the latest wave of mass shootings, while still holding to their right to own firearms. Indeed, 67% of gun owners admit to bearing arms primarily for the reason of self-defense, which is certainly understandable in our day and age.
There is little hope for a settlement in the gun-control war, as both sides hold to intractable positions. Much of the left will settle for little less than an out-right ban on guns (look for a proposed constitutional amendment to do away with the second), beginning with virtually any type of semi-automatic weapons, while the right in fear of the legislative slippery slope, seems unlikely to bend on further gun-control purchase and ownership regulations.
The Los Angeles Times reported on a study of the life histories of mass shooters in the U.S. funded by a national justice department agency, building profiles from a database of shooting incidents involving the deaths of four or more people in a public place, dating back to 1966. Jailed shooters, their friends, families, survivors and first responders were interviewed.
Moreover, reporters dug through reams of data from printed manifestos, suicide notes and social media posts as well as trial transcripts looking for patterns.
Although for obvious reasons (namely God’s sovereign and providential purposes in the affairs of mankind), no single profile emerged of a mass murdering shooter.
However, some enlightening commonalities did emerge from a majority of murderers. Many or most were young white males who experienced one of or more of the following:
- Childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age.
- Exposure to parental suicide.
- Victims of sexual, physical abuse and neglect.
- Severe bullying.
- Mental health issues, such as; depression, anxiety and other thought disorders.
Many of our readers would not find any of the above characteristics as unusual or surprising, since mental and emotional instability would seem to rationally explain what on the surface seems to be irrational behavior.
Among other contributing factors included a crisis type event or conflict for the shooters shortly before their acts (i.e. a murderous rage from a recently job-terminated shooter) and the more recent phenomenon of copy-cat shooters being motivated, if not inspired by social media posts and extreme hate-oriented websites (e.g. ‘antifa’ and white supremacists).
Therefore, other than instituting some “red-flag laws” and pouring millions if not billions of dollars into security measures, mental health prevention and treatment programs, there seems to be little secular help or guarantees in sight of doing away with (#NeverAgain) mass-shooting murders.
Few if any pundits or politicians will dare go near the real spiritual, underlying reality of evil, hate and murder (James 4:1-2), lying at the doorstep of every man’s deceitful and desperately wicked hearts, cursed by sin and influenced by Satan.
One who knew better, was the Dayton, Ohio shooter himself, who declared in a bio post, “I’m going to hell and I’m not coming back.”
So, what are redeemed disciples of Jesus Christ to do and what do we have to offer a world facing the above obstacles to living “peaceful, dignified and quiet lives” on earth (1 Timothy 2:2) in a time of active shooters and mass murder, breeding fear among the populace?
I would say, humbly mourn and share.
Mourn Over Sin
The Bible calls us to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15) before attempting to offer contrived words of worldly wisdom and easy- quick fix solutions to this rash of violent sin before us.
We all should weep over what has and is becoming of this nation, due to its rejection of its God and creator, failing to give him the worship, honor and thanksgiving he is due. It is only by his common grace providing a level of protection on ‘the just as well as the unjust’ that has kept this land from total anarchy or chaos.
Share the Hope of Good News
Know and explain God’s meta-narrative or story of the world (“HIStory”) to the lost and hurting among us; it’s past, present and future, which will feature the wonderful good and gospel news of final redemption after a final period of violence and bad news. God has a four-part story for us that we are in the third part of:
- Fall (sin and its consequences- see last weekend’s news)
- Redemption, meaning salvation by the cross and resurrection of Christ in this current age of grace
- Restoration, meaning after a future and final age of world-wide judgment and destruction, King Jesus will rule and reign over the most glorious period of man’s history and after God’s extreme make-over of this planet, bring an eternal new heavens and earth to God’s people to enjoy with him.
Now is the time to humbly mourn and share the only hope for mankind in this sin-cursed and violent world while there is time (James 4:9).
Now is the time to cry for America and then let God lift hearts through the blood that saves and gives life, rather than fear the ones that are shedding blood now.