Wednesday, we all watched in horror as another high school mass shooting took place. Seventeen innocent human beings were gunned down. What was their crime? They simply attended school.
Not long after, the debates started raging online and on TV over what we, as a country should do regarding the systemic issue of mass shootings in America.
As a father of two, preacher, having served in the United States Marine with a deployment to Iraq, and friend of those who attended Virginia Tech during the 2007 school shooting, I reflect on the events that have taken place over the last 20 years and think to myself, “What in the world is going on?” “Why is nothing being done?”
While I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I think we can start the process and reach common ground.
First, there is no fail-safe answer to this problem and we all need to come to grips with it. Evil exists, it always has, and it always will. Evil will always find a way to exact itself in a gruesome, deplorable manner. However, too often this is trotted out as a means to do nothing. It is the default position of those who would prefer no modification to the current gun laws.
“Guns don’t kill people, bad people with guns kill people.” “Evil has always existed and will find a way to kill.” Even if these answers are true, why does that mean we shouldn’t modify gun laws in America? What if, in every instance of evil, outside of times where guns are used, we ran that same logical algorithm?
What if after 9/11, we heard “Well, evil is evil, and it will always find a way to kill people.” “Planes don’t kill people, bad people flying planes kills people so we’re not changing out security measures.” What If our president, secretary of defense, or any member of Congress used that line of reasoning in the wake of America’s worst attack on our homeland since Pearl Harbor?
We would be greatly disturbed if our security measures stayed the same. So why is (year after year, high school shooting after high school shooting) this line of logic accepted? It shouldn’t be. Sure evil exists, sure incidents like these may still happen no matter what laws are enforced, but that gives us no moral ground for maintaining the status quo.
Second, It seems clear that a large number, if not the majority of mass-shootings are carried out by those with mental health issues. Unfortunately, it is only after they commit horrific actions this information is either completely known about or reported. If this country is going to solve the issue of mass-causality shootings, the mental health crisis must be pushed to the forefront and made a budgetary priority at the federal and state level.
While I disagree with the former president on just about every issue, he was wise to place a mental health modification regarding access to guns. However, this modification was rolled back by the current administration. But why? I have yet to hear or read a viable explanation for this roll back.
Furthermore, looking at the larger context of American life, In just about every aspect of life, there are qualifications which are needed to operate potentially deadly items. No one can walk into a hospital and start operating on a patient; get on a runway and start flying a plane; or drive a car. Even in the car scenario there are rules and regulations that dictate the capacity of how fast the car can go. Why don’t they make cars that can go 500 mph? For the protection of the other people around the driver. Why isn’t this at least a consideration for the type of weapons which are sold here in the United States?
This leads to my third point: Modification to the gun laws does not mean the stripping away of the Second Amendment. No one would win a court case if they walked into a movie theater and yelled “FIRE!” and as a result was sued by people who were injured. They simply couldn’t stand before the judge and say, “What is wrong judge? I was just expressing my First Amendment right!”
I like the Second Amendment, fought to protect the Second Amendment, actually, all the amendments in the Constitution of the United States. I don’t have a problem with selling AR-15s, AK-47s, SKS, or M14s but what about tinkering with slight modifications which will minimize the max damage they are able to inflict on the general population.
For instance, what about abolishing burst mode for all semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15? What about reducing the max capacity for a magazine in half, from 30 to 15 rounds? Eliminating bump stocks? This enables the avid gun consumer to enjoy the thrill of owning and operating their dream gun, but drastically reduces its maximum effectiveness in comparison to its military counterpart.
The only other viable options I see would to hire veterans who have cleared a psychological evaluation to guard the schools around the country, should the school district request it or train staff members who desire the training and equip them to handle these threats.
Thus, in every educational budget at the state and federal level, the teachers who desire this training should be paid a significant stipend by the state as designated marksman. They would be required to pass yearly evaluations like any other security force and states could use independent contractors who meet their needs.
In closing, as preacher here in town, my heart goes out to families and friends of those in Florida. May God grant you the peace that surpasses all understanding. Evil can only flourish here when good people decide to do nothing or are so bent toward a single ideology, that the ideology is more important than the overriding problem.
My fear is that this epidemic doesn’t hurt our moral conscious enough for real change to be enacted. While I don’t claim to have all the answers, we need to start having serious, civil dialogue about the nature of this problem before it is our own children in Gaston County who become sites on the TV, answers to trivia questions, and just another mass shooting statistic. It is time to hold Congress, as well as our own state and federal representatives accountable. I’d personally love to have a conversation with Congressman Patrick McHenry on whether or not he is willing to entertain slight modifications to the gun laws and being the process of minimizing this epidemic.
Dean Meadows is the preacher at the Gastonia Church of Christ, blogger, and co-founder of Apologia Institute. If you desire to contact Dean about this article please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org