To say that I’m horrified this morning is like saying that… actually, I can’t think of a good simile. I’m horrified. I’m sick to my stomach. I’m counting up the casualties – both dead and wounded – in my head, and I’m boggled.
I’m a combat veteran.
While I slept last night, a lone man with a stack of rifles killed and wounded more people than most individual units in combat will lose in a year. In the course of minutes, one man killed or wounded the equivalent of a battalion of soldiers.
As of this writing, over 50 people have died as a result of last night’s shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over 400 are wounded.
To lose almost 500 people to wounds in a day is unthinkable.
To put this in perspective: the casualties at Utah Beach in WWII numbered 197.
The number killed during the entire Tet Offensive was 543 (over 2500 were wounded.)
I shouldn’t see casualty figures from a country music concert that are comparable to a day or a week in combat.
That’s what I’m seeing today.
We are being held hostage in this country by a series of “lone gunmen,” who are being aided and abetted by both “2nd Amendment” organizations and citizens who would rather fall on their sword than admit that we have a gun problem.
Let me say that again, in case you didn’t hear me in the back.
We have a gun problem.
I am not holding every single gun owner in the United States responsible for our gun epidemic. Many people in my family own firearms. Many of my friends own and carry firearms. I am personally trained to operate several different types of firearms – though I choose not to own one now.
But, if your first response to the suggestion that we have a gun problem is to become defensive, you might be one of those who would rather watch our country go down in a hail of small arms fire than admit that we need to fix this.
As a Christian, I have been raised with the belief that we are all sinners, that there is something in us that is fundamentally flawed or broken. I have been raised to believe that our desire to do evil will always war with our desire to do good.
I’m not sure that I believe that now, but I have a question for those Christians who do believe that.
Why trust a bunch of sinners with deadly weapons?
Our nation, our culture, is driven by unholy rage and irrational fear – qualities that are not the Fruit of the Spirit or the “good fruit” that Jesus talked about, but we have allowed a nation full of angry and fearful people nearly unlimited access to firearms.
By and large, Christians are silent.
We’ll vote for an immoral candidate based solely on their stance on abortion or gay marriage. But, we won’t lift a finger to aid the victims of gun violence. All we have to give them are our thoughts and prayers.
Our thoughts and prayers are worthless.
Our condolences are empty.
Our cries to God to save us are unheard.
Until we decide to place our faith in something besides guns, we will be a nation under siege, held hostage by a series of angry gunmen.
We have chosen to live by the sword. We will continue to die by it.
But, there’s Good News.
We can change.
We can demand action by our elected officials.
We can expend our energies spreading a message of peace, a message of love, a message of justice.
We can repent.