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Tag: Second Amendment

America’s Gun Culture in Light of the Recent Insurrection

australian gun control

Years ago, I wrote a post about firearms and the importance of gun control laws. Boy, did I step in it, attracting all sorts of gun nuts and worshipers of the Second Amendment. I took the position then that we must do something about the dangerous, irrational, violent gun culture in America. Numerous mass shootings, school massacres, murders, and insurrections later, I still believe that the people of the United States MUST come to terms with the gun monster we have created by allowing the NRA and other pro-gun groups to impede meaningful, exhaustive firearm regulation. After recent armed insurrections at the U.S. Capitol and numerous state capitals, it’s evident that we must drastically change our firearm laws.

But, Bruce, the Second Amendment says . . .

Ah yes, the God of the American right. What, exactly, does the Second Amendment say?

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

A well regulated militia, end of discussion. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with personal firearm ownership as it is currently practiced in the United States. At best, our well regulated militias are state National Guard units, and not Billy Bob and Joe Bob getting together with their white supremacist buddies and calling themselves a militia.

It is the duty of the law enforcement and the National Guard to protect the security of our free state, not people who have bought an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle or a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol at Dick’s Sporting Goods or their local gun store.

I grew up in a home surrounded by firearms. My dad was an avid gun collector. In the 1960s and 1970s, Dad had tables at local gun shows, buying and selling firearms and ammunition. After we moved to Arizona in the 70s, Dad opened a gun store in Sierra Vista. I worked many hours at the store, and had at my disposal everything from single-shot .22k Hornet rifles to .458 Winchester Magnum rifles. When I wanted to go hunting or do some target shooting, I either used my own guns or I borrowed one from the store.

In the 1960s, Dad got a visit from the ATF, alleging that he had violated the 1968 Gun Control Act with some of his firearm sales at a Lima, Ohio gun show. While he was not arrested, ATF agents told him that if he didn’t stop his illicit trade, they would charge him with federal crimes. Did Dad stop illegally peddling guns? I can’t know for sure, but I doubt it.

As an eleven-year-old boy, I vividly remember Dad sitting at the dining room table modifying an M1 Carbine so it would be fully automatic. After the modification, Dad and I went outside and lined up a bunch of tin cans on the fence. Dad then mowed the cans down with his now fully automatic M1. I have no idea what happened to this gun, or if Dad modified other M1s for interested buyers.

That’s my background, lest anyone suggest that I don’t know anything about firearms. I owned firearms well into the 1990s. I then sold my rifles, shotguns, and handguns. By that time, I had stopped hunting, and I lost interest in target shooting and owning guns in general. I do wish I hadn’t sold my bolt action Mossburg .410 shotgun with a modified choke. It was my first firearm purchase at the Lima gun show mentioned above. I was eleven and paid $21 for the shotgun.

What must we as a people do to put an end to the Second Amendment cult? What must we do to put an end to gun violence? What must we do to strip insurrectionists of their weapons of mass destruction? What follows are suggestions for radically changing America’s gun culture.

First, all firearms and ancillary equipment must be registered and entered into a national database that is accessible to law enforcement. Purchase requirements must be strengthened and waiting periods lengthened. These things must be changed at the federal level. State governments have shown that they are unwilling to do what’s necessary to protect the American people from gun violence. Here in Ohio, super-majorities of Republicans in the state legislature have turned the Buckeye State into the Wild, Wild West. Anything goes when it comes to firearms.

Second, certain firearms must be strictly regulated and, if need be, confiscated. Assault-style firearms must be banned, along with high-capacity magazines. Owners of such things should be given an opportunity to turn them in and receive fair market value for their weapons. If they refuse to turn in the guns, laws should be crafted that would seriously punish them if they are caught with the weapons in public.

Third, all state concealed carry laws should be repealed. No one should be permitted to carry a firearm in public. Allowance should be made for hunting and target shooting, but firearms used for such purposes must be secured separate from ammunition until they are readied for use.

Fourth, all private sales or transfers of weapons must be reported to local law enforcement, who then must update the federal database with the new information. Illegal firearm sales must be severely punished.

Fifth, every gun and ammunition sale should be taxed. Want to reduce the number of firearms in America? Tax sales at such a level that purchasers will think twice about buying more guns or boxes of ammunition.

Sixth, sales of things such as bulletproof vests, armor-piercing bullets, flash grenades, and arrest zip ties should be limited to law enforcement. Ammunition purchases should be limited. No one needs to own thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Seventh, all firearm owners must take comprehensive firearm training. This training must be repeated every five years. All firearms are required to be secured with a trigger lock or locked in a gun safe/box.

Eighth, Hollywood and game companies must be held accountable for their love affair with violence and firearms. This is one of those “think of the children” moments. Children with immature minds gain warped views of firearms, life, violence, and death when watching programming or playing video games that glorify these things.

Ninth, the Dickey Amendment must be repealed. For 25 years the CDC has shied away from conducting research on gun violence. That’s because in 1996 Congress passed the Dickey Amendment, a law that mandated “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the CDC may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” This silencing of research on gun violence serves to hide the true nature and extent of gun-related injuries and deaths.

The goal, long term, should be to adopt the Australian or British model of gun control. One thing I know for certain: we cannot continue on the path we are on. It’s only a matter of time before another mass shooting, school massacre, or, the gods forbid, an armed, bloody insurrection against the legally constituted government of the United States. These insurrectionists are not patriots. Their purpose is to overthrow federal and state governments, establishing a white theocracy. That the people who stormed the Capitol were determined to have no king but Donald Jesus Trump should scare the shit out of rational Americans. If the insurrectionists had turned right instead of left, we likely would have seen the execution of numerous senators and representatives. This mob was even calling for the head of Christian nationalist Vice President Michael Pence.

I have no doubt that armed insurrections lie ahead for Washington DC and many state capitals. We are possibly facing days like we have not seen since the Civil War. The difference is the insurrectionists are heavily armed and are able to inflict mass casualties. When mass delusion controls millions and millions of Americans, there’s no hope of reasoning with such people. Most of them are beyond facts. They have bought into lies that have so enraged them that they are willing to murder people in the name of “truth.” The short-term answer, then, is for insurrectionists to be met with and repelled by law enforcement and the national guard. Long term, the beast must be neutered and disarmed. The things I mentioned above would help in doing just that.

Let me be clear, I have no interest in debating members of the Second Amendment cult, NRA members, or people who think firearm ownership is an absolute right (no rights are absolute). For this post, I will invoke the one comment rule for members of the cult. Say your piece, and move on. I am more interested in hearing from people who are tired and fearful of the American gun culture; who are sick of all the threats of violence and murders; who fear that our democracy is in trouble and we must do everything in our power to turn back seditious insurrectionists out to destroy the United States as we know it.

The comment section is yours.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

The Cult of Personal Freedom in the Donald Trump Era

michigan protest

Rabid Trump supporters spilled out into the streets in recent days, protesting stay-at-home orders in their respective states. We saw similar protests years ago from Tea Party members, and in more recent years from white supremacists. What’s the common denominators in these protests?

  • Anti-government sentiments
  • Gun ownership
  • Racism
  • Antisemitism
  • Libertarian politics
  • Anarchism
  • Conservative Christianity
  • Support of Evangelical culture war

I suspect more than a few of these protesters are also anti-vaxxers and homeschoolers. What holds this eclectic group together is that their God-given/natural/Constitutional rights are absolute, and no government — local, state, or federal — has a right to limit their rights.

florida protest

President Trump fueled insurrection over the weekend by tweeting out inflammatory comments to Democratic governors whose states have stay-at-home orders. Like red meat to a pack of dogs, these tweets were just what his devoted followers needed. “Trump is on our side,” protesters thought. Little do they know or care that Trump isn’t on anyone’s side. Trump, a narcissist and pathological liar, doesn’t give a damn about anyone except Donald J. Trump. One only need watch his daily press conferences to see that the president has no empathy for the American people. All that matters political power and financial enrichment.

Trump’s base continues to support him. It’s clear to anyone who is paying attention that there is literally nothing Trump can do to lose the fealty and devotion of his base. Try engaging Trump’s base on social media, and you will quickly learn how angry, vicious, and ignorant they can be — much like the president.

protest in kentucky

President Trump and stay-at-home-order protesters only care about one thing: self. They wrongly believe that their rights supersede the responsibility of government to protect the health, safety, and welfare of those they govern. These so-called patriots are willing to turn to violence to protect what they believe are their inviolable civil rights. In the days or weeks ahead, it would not surprise me if some gun nut defending his “rights” shoots a police officer or other member of law enforcement in “self-defense.” We must not turn a blind-eye to right-wingers who are talking about Second Amendment remedies. These faux-patriots believe that they have a duty and obligation to turn their guns on the government if and when their rights are limited or curtailed. In their addled minds, stay-at-home orders and shutting churches constitute TYRANNY! Of course, it is no such thing. The various restrictions of civil liberties in states across this country are for one thing and one thing alone: to protect the health and safety of state residents.

As I mentioned previously, most of these protesters are likely conservative/Evangelical Christians. You would think they would have heard sermons about selflessness and loving your neighbor as yourself, but evidently not. Their words and actions reveal selfishness found usually only among toddlers. Most of us outgrow our toddler years, learning that we have a duty to love and care for others; that sometimes we must be willing to curtail our personal liberties for the sake of others. This is simply the right thing to do.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

“Laws Don’t Stop People From Doing Bad Things,” Says a Local Law Enforcement Officer

gun violence
Comic by Mike Luckovich

The title of this post is a verbatim statement made by a gun-loving, middle-aged white Republican who likely voted for Donald Trump. This man, a member of local law enforcement, recently attended a meeting that I happened to attend as well. Prior to the start of the meeting, several government officials were discussing gun laws and firearm restrictions. One avid Trump supporter happily lent his support to the President Trump’s lie that cities with stringent gun laws — Chicago, in particular — have higher crime rates and firearm-related violence. (Please see Gun Laws, Death and CrimeIs Chicago Proof That Gun Laws Don’t Work? Chicago Toughest on Gun Control? A Claim Shot Full of HolesLaw Center to Prevent Gun Violence.) The member of law enforcement chimed in with several anecdotal stories about gun violence and firearms laws, and then, uttering the most absurd thing I have ever heard come out of a policeman’s mouth. The man said, “Laws don’t stop people from doing bad things.”

Having business before this government body, I thought it unwise to interject my pinko-commie-socialist-liberal thoughts into the discussion. I thought to myself, just another day in the right-wing nirvana of rural Northwest Ohio. Nothing I could say would change hearts and minds, and saying the wrong thing could have a negative outcome for me business-wise. Later that night, as I sat in my recliner thinking about the day’s events, I found myself becoming angry over what the police officer said. How dare a man who swore an oath to uphold federal, state, and local law, and to serve and protect local citizens say that laws don’t stop people from doing bad things. If this is truly the case, why not repeal all laws and let the man with the fastest draw and the straightest shot determine social order and freedom. Is this police officer so blinded by his support of the gun lobbies’ misinterpretation of the Second Amendment that he cannot see the importance of having laws? Surely, he thinks we should have laws prohibiting murder, rape, robbery, and sexual abuse. I highly doubt this officer is a libertine. Born and raised in this area, this officer has been deeply influenced by the political, religious, and social mores of rural Ohio. Why, then, would he emphatically state that laws don’t stop people from doing bad things?

If asked, I am sure that the officer would limit his statement to the efficacy of gun laws. Why, I ask, limit making laws to firearm regulations? Laws don’t stop some people from murdering, raping, or molesting children. Is this reason, then, to do away with laws that make such behaviors illegal? Of course not. So it is with gun laws. It is certainly true that gun laws don’t keep motivated criminals from securing firearms. That said, limiting access to certain firearms, accessories, and ammunition, would make it harder for criminals to use them, and in doing so, would save lives. Outlawing semi-automatic assault rifles and high-capacity clips, along with having universal background checks and severely restricting handgun ownership would go a long way in putting an end to mass shootings, and would also, in time, reduce criminal gun violence. One front on the battle against drug addiction and opioid-related deaths is regulating/controlling legal drug supplies, and aggressively going after those manufacturing, distributing, and selling drugs illegally. We know that this is the only way to put an end to the opioid crisis, so why, then, do we not use the same approach to gun violence? That current gun laws are often ineffective is agreed by one and all. But the answer is not to say, fuck it, and give up on attempts to craft effective laws that respect gun owner rights while at the same time putting an end to gun violence. If progressive countries such as England, Australia, Spain, and Japan can drastically reduce gun violence through legislative means, surely the United States can do the same. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Japan has a per-hundred-thousand homicide rate of .31, Spain .66, Britain .92, Australia .98, and the United States 4.88. I ask you, in that set of numbers, which one stands out to you?

Laws may not stop people intent on harming others from committing crimes, but imagine, for a moment, a society without laws and enforcers of law. Imagine a world where all disputes are settled by violence, and the people with the most powerful means of violence win. Why, we would be living in a world much like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, or The Walking Dead and Mad Max. It is our laws and their enforcement that give structure and order to our society. Baptists should have the freedom to worship as they wish and not fear being murdered while they pray. Country concert goers should have the freedom to drink beer and sing tunes about women, beer and trucks and not fear being gunned down. All of us should have the freedom to go about our daily lives and not fear being murdered in our homes or at the grocery. The only way to protect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is to have laws that are enforced for the common good. Until our political leaders stand up to the gun lobby and pass legislation restricting gun purchase, ownership, and use, we should expect continued mass shootings and gun-related crime and violence.

We, the people, have the power to stem the flow of blood in our streets. It remains to be seen if we will do so. Surely, twenty-six dead Baptists is enough to force the issue, right?  Surely, the mass shootings and gun violence of the twenty-first century, when taken collectively, will lead to systemic, nationwide change, right? Surely, now is the time to tell the NRA to go fuck itself, right? How many more people must die before we demand Congress and state legislatures send the gun lobby packing and begin to enact comprehensive gun regulation?

Hey, did you see what Trump tweeted?

Evangelical Michael Snyder Admits God Can’t Protect Christians, Only Guns Can

michael snyder

The Christian God seems mighty small these days, especially in light of the murder of twenty-six Evangelicals at a Baptist church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas. In times past, preachers told congregants to just trust God and all would be well; that God has the whole world in his hands; that God will protect them from acts of violence and evil (and hurricanes). Christian blood now runs in the streets and God does what? Nothing. Sermons are preached, prayers are uttered, yet God remains silent, afflicted with a paralysis that keeps him from acting.

Tired of God’s inaction and indifference, Evangelicals such as Michael Snyder are suggesting that Christians take matters into their own hands by carrying firearms and establishing armed security at Christian houses of worship. Snyder, a regular writer for Charisma News, wrote:

The mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday morning is already being called the deadliest church shooting in modern U.S. history, and we need to be in prayer for the victims and for their families. At about 11:30 a.m., a heavily armed man entered the sanctuary and began shooting. At this point, it is being reported that “at least 27 people have been killed” and at least another 30 have been injured. Tragically, reports indicate that several small children are among those who were murdered.

As I write this, we are still waiting to hear from authorities about a motive. We do know that the gunman is dead, but we haven’t been given any information about his identity.

But whatever the motive was, this just goes to show that something like this could literally happen anywhere. Only about 400 people live in Sutherland Springs, and I am sure nobody ever expected something like this to happen on a Sunday morning…

….

Of course, Democrats were already calling for gun control within minutes of this being reported by the national news.

But gun control won’t stop tragedies such as this. The bad guys are always going to find ways to get guns, and so disarming the rest of the population is a really, really bad idea.

What we really need to do is to make sure that there is armed security at every church in America from now on. If there had been armed security at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday morning, a whole lot of lives could have potentially been saved.

So many of us are victims of “normalcy bias” when it comes to tragedies such as this. Since we grew up in an America where these things rarely happened, we assume we don’t need armed security at churches, schools and other public events.

But times have changed, and so must we. Islamic terror is on the rise, Republican members of Congress are being attacked, anti-Christian hate is at unprecedented levels and the number of mentally unstable people running around in our society has never been higher.

….

let us push for armed security at all of our churches from now on. Someday it may be your church that is attacked, and when that happens, having armed security on hand will make all the difference.

Personally, I am promising all of you that when I go to Congress, I will never back down even a single inch when it comes to defending the 2nd Amendment.

The left wants to take away all of our guns so the bad guys with weapons can have free reign, as they currently do in major cities such as Chicago.

But the truth is that an armed society is a polite society, and we need to greatly resist any efforts by the left to take our guns away.

michael snyder political platform
Michael Snyder’s Political Platform

Snyder, a Fundamentalist Christian, is running for one of Idaho’s U.S. Senate seats. While he professes to be a follower of Jesus, it is evident from his campaign platform that he doesn’t trust God to get things done; that all this praying about guns and violence is a waste of time. Send Snyder to Washington and he promises to:

​steadfastly oppose any efforts to restrict the freedoms guaranteed to the American people by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. Gun-related crime is the worst in cities such as Chicago that have implemented extremely strict gun control measures. When criminals know that average citizens may be armed, they are less likely to break into homes.  Here in north Idaho, any criminal that intended to make a living breaking into homes would have a very short career indeed.

If sent to Washington, I will fight to eliminate all federal firearms acts, which violate the US Constitution. I will also seek to entirely abolish the unlawful BATFE, which has been harassing law abiding citizens since it’s inception. No politician in America is going to be more pro-gun than me, and I am very proud to stand with those that work tirelessly to protect our 2nd Amendment rights.

Snyder wants to do away with ALL firearm laws. He also wants to abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives. Imagine the horrific amount of violence and gun deaths that will happen if the Michael Snyders of the world get their way. Anyone that thinks the United States — already the most armed nation on earth — needs more guns and fewer firearm laws must believe they are living in Westworld — a fictional world where human-looking androids repeatedly die and come back to life. Thinking the answer for gun violence is more firearms (or increased military funding) is not only irrational, it is dangerous, and will only lead to increased bloodshed and death. (please read Gun Violence: Let’s Stop Blaming Evil When People Do Bad Things and No More “Thoughts and Prayers.” It’s Time to Address the Murderous American Gun Culture)

I have reached a place politically and morally where I have zero tolerance for people who support the NRA and the gun lobby in their attempts to lessen or eliminate firearm laws. While I grudgingly admit that mentally healthy Americans have the right to own guns, I don’t think that right is without restriction or control. In fact, I support abolishing the Second Amendment, or rewriting it so owning military assault weapons, large capacity magazines, large numbers of firearms, unlimited amounts of ammo, and bump stocks is illegal. If Joe-the-gun-owner wants to sate his need for bloodshed by killing innocent animals, then make sure he is using firearms that can’t be used for large-scale killing. Magazine limits would allow gun owners to hunt without also allowing those same firearms to be used as they were in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs. Surely any hunter worth his salt can kill Bambi’s mother in three shots or less. If such a law had been in place and strictly enforced, it is likely that there would have been far fewer deaths in Sutherland Springs. Instead, the gunman, thanks to his military training, quickly went through a number of high-capacity magazines as he sprayed bullets around the First Baptist Church sanctuary.

Count me as one commie-pinko-liberal who is proud to say, I’m coming for your guns. I support efforts to strictly control firearm ownership and to make illegal firearms, ammo, and accessories that serve no use other than to inflict widespread casualties. If gun owners want to hunt, trap shoot, or plink tin cans, fine, but they don’t need military-style weapons and ammunition to do so. The only way to meaningfully do something about gun violence is to control, restrict, or outlaw the means of violence. If we as a people can regulate everything from automobiles to bedroom dressers, surely we can do the same with firearms. Until we do, we can expect to see more gun related violence and death. And now that Christians are finally admitting that God is not going to fix things, it is time for thoughtful, caring people to develop and demand the political will necessary to run the gun lobby out of town and put an end to the carnage and violence that has turned the United States into an endlessly looping horror flick.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen  grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Gun Violence: Let’s Stop Blaming Evil When People Do Bad Things

guns dont kill people
Comic by Bigfoot Justice Comics

People are scrambling to find words to best describe the murderous actions of Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas last Sunday. What is known so far is that Paddock was a rich white guy who liked to gamble and was, at times, verbally abusive towards his girlfriend. At a loss to figure out why Paddock did what he did, the talking heads on Fox News have searched high and low for the answer, going so far as to blame his actions on his lack of religious faith. Other talking heads, missing the forest for the trees, wondered brainlessly out loud about whether it was time to increase security in hotels. How in the world did Paddock get so many guns into the hotel? they ask. Duh, geniuses, in his luggage and bags. Sean Hannity blamed the lack of firearms in the country concert crowd, not thinking about how having loaded handguns would have stopped Paddock from spraying the crowd with bullets shot from semi-automatic/automatic weapons hundreds of yards away. Blame. Blame everyone and everything except the one common denominator in EVERY mass shooting — handguns, assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines. Guns don’t kill people, people do. Or so goes the droning NRA mantra, anyway.

The latest person being blamed for the Las Vegas carnage is an entity called EVIL. Evil, much like Satan/Lucifer/Devil, is a religious construct meant to explain why people do bad things. Evangelicals believe all of us, from the moment our father’s sperm united with our mother’s egg, are sinners. We don’t become sinners, we are sinners. Thanks to Adam and Eve, who disobeyed God by eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil®, all of us, by nature, are sinners. But when it comes to really, really bad shit — gays getting married, women having abortion, Bill Clinton getting blow jobs in the White House, and Steven Paddock killing and maiming hundreds of people — many Evangelicals blame evil. It’s evil, not guns, that commits mass murder. Of course, Evangelicals — who are overwhelmingly Republicans — forget Mr. Evil when people fly planes into buildings. Then it is Muslims doing all the killing. They seem to have no problem determining who or what is behind such terrorism. However, when it comes to gun violence, many Evangelicals are deaf, dumb, and blind.

matt bevin you cant regulate evil
Tweet by right-wing Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin

Evil is not to blame for America’s problem with mass shootings — guns are. Jesse Berney, a writer for Rolling Stonehad this to say about blaming evil for what happened in Las Vegas:

It’s easy to call acts of horror “evil.” It’s comforting to ascribe an external, unknowable motive to events so terrible we can’t imagine a motivation.

The human mind is incapable of imagining what would drive a man to haul an arsenal of high-powered weapons into a hotel room, knock out a couple windows, murder dozens of people and injure hundreds more by spraying them with gunfire. So we call it evil. That settles that.

President Trump called the shooting in Las Vegas that left at least 59 dead and more than 500 injured “an act of pure evil,” and who’s to argue with him? If evil exists in this world, surely indiscriminately murdering faceless strangers from 300 yards away qualifies. Whatever drove Stephen Paddock to that hotel room that night would fall under any reasonable definition of evil.

But what if evil doesn’t exist in this world?

Of course people do terrible things. Examples are easy to find, from our own regrets to the most unimaginable cruelties. Paddock murdered dozens of people. The government of Myanmar, led by a Nobel Peace Prize winner, is engaged in a brutal genocide against an ethnic minority. Every day children are exploited and abused. The world is an abattoir of violence and cruelty if you choose to do nothing but focus on the terror we visit on each other.

But evil? Evil as an independent reality, a thing-in-itself that urges people to action? “Evil” not as judgment of Paddock’s actions but as an explanation of them? That’s a fantasy, and it absolutely will lead to more shootings like these, more deaths.

When elected officials like Trump rely on “evil” to explain away mass shootings, they are following a deliberate strategy. Republicans know wall-to-wall coverage of these events are the best opportunity gun control advocates have to draw attention to the issue and save lives. But the GOP – beholden to the overhyped power of the National Rifle Association – have just one goal: pass zero bills restricting gun sales in any way. (In fact, the Republican leadership in the House is currently considering a bill that would make it easier to purchase both silencers and armor-piercing bullets.) They follow a few strategies like clockwork.

There are calls not to “politicize” these tragedies. They say it’s too soon, that it dishonors the victims and their families to bring politics into the discussion.

They claim specific gun laws wouldn’t have stopped this individual tragedy, because it’s not the right gun, or the perpetrator would have passed a background check – as though stopping some future mass shootings isn’t worthwhile if we can’t stop them all.

They claim criminals intent on breaking the law will just ignore gun laws anyway, as though that doesn’t apply to every law ever passed.

And they call these events “evil” to make them seem random and unpreventable. You can’t fight evil, after all. It’s invisible, incorporeal. It’s the perfect foil for politicians who don’t want to do anything. What are we going to do, pass a law to make evil illegal?

….

But the problem here isn’t evil. It’s not the devil. It’s us: human beings. We have motivations and justifications and rationalizations and reasons for everything we do. We don’t know why Stephen Paddock murdered those people. Maybe we never will. And maybe the sensible laws we could pass, like universal background checks and a ban on all assault weapons, wouldn’t have stopped someone so wealthy and motivated to commit horror. But it could stop someone else. It would save lives.

Blaming evil is an excuse to do nothing in the face of tens of thousands of gun deaths a year. Only a fraction of those deaths are the result of mass shootings like in Las Vegas. We can and should work to reduce all gun deaths, from suicides to accidents to crime-related deaths to massacres like Sunday’s. That means passing laws that keeps guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. The only other option is to do nothing.

….

Almost 35 000 people a year are killed with firearms in the United States (and thousands more are wounded). Many of these deaths are suicides. Nineteen children a day are killed or maimed by gunfire. More people are killed by guns each year than are killed in automobile accidents. Government at every level has seen fit to regulate automobile use, hoping to reduce deaths and injuries from auto accidents. Remove automobiles from the equation and what happens? (Think real hard on that one, gun-lovers.) If guns are removed from the gun violence equation or restricted, guess what happens? Less gun violence, as Australia will attest.

What follows is a list of mass shootings I compiled from several recent news articles:

  • Fort Hood, November 5, 2009 — 13 dead, 30 wounded
  • Edmond, Oklahoma, August 20, 1986 — 14 dead, 6 wounded
  • San Bernardino,California December 2, 2015 — 14 dead, 22 wounded
  • San Ysidro, California, July 18, 1984 — 21 dead, 19 wounded
  • Killeen, Texas, October 16, 1991 — 23 dead, 27 wounded
  • Sandy Hook Elementary School, December 14, 2012 — 26 dead, 2 wounded
  • Virginia Tech University, April 16, 2007 — 32 dead, 17 wounded
  • Orlando,Florida June 12, 2016 — 49 dead, 58 wounded
  • Las Vegas,Nevada October 1, 2017 — 59 dead, 527 wounded
  • Tucson, Arizona, January 8, 2011 — 6 dead, 11 wounded
  • Seal Beach, California, October 12, 2011 — 8 dead, 1 wounded
  • Oakland, California, April 2, 2012 — 7 dead, 1 wounded
  • Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012, 12 dead, 58 wounded
  • Oak Creek, Wisconsin, August 5, 2012, 6 dead, 3 wounded
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 28, 2012 — 6 dead, 2 wounded
  • Brookfield, Wisconsin, October 21, 2012 — 3 dead, 4 wounded
  • Washington, DC, September 16, 2013 — 12 dead, 3 injured
  • Isla Vista, California, May 23, 2014, 6 dead , 7 wounded
  • Charleston, South Carolina, June 18, 2015, 9 dead
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee, July 16, 2015, 5 dead, 3 wounded
  • Roseburg, Oregon, October 1, 2015, 9 dead, 9 injured
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado, November 29, 2015, 3 dead, 9 wounded

american jesus
Comic by David Horsey

What’s the common denominator is these stories? Evil? White guys? Buildings? No! Guns — handguns, long guns, assault rifles, high-capacity clips. And what has Congress done about these mass shootings? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Fearing being primaried by right-wing, NRA-moneyed, Jesus-loving, flag-waving challengers, Republicans refuse to even talk about passing meaningful gun law reform. And sadly, many Democrats are no better. Fearing losing their seats to Republican challengers, Democrats cower in shameful silence before the gun lobby.

The United States has been fighting the war on terror for sixteen years. Congress has seen fit to give the US military trillions of dollars to fund the war on terrorism, all because 3,000 people died on 9/11. Yet, during this same time period, almost 500,000 people have died through gun violence and over a 1,000,000 people have been wounded. And Congress has done what, exactly?  Nothing. If Trump and congressional Republicans have their way, current gun laws will be loosened, making it easier for people who shouldn’t own firearms to have them Earlier this year, Congress made it easier for people with mental illness to purchase a gun. Even worse, Congress is contemplating abolishing the law that makes silencers illegal. Imagine how much damage Paddock could have done if his guns were equipped with shot-muffling silencers.

buying more guns
Comic by David Horsey

I am done listening to people who won’t or can’t see that we have a huge problem with gun violence in this country. I refuse to spend one more moment listening to people who think less regulation and more guns is the answer. Call me a pinko liberal or a Communist, I don’t care. I plan to do everything in my power to force government at every level to restrict gun sales and ownership. Some currently available firearms should be made illegal — assault rifles in particular. People shouldn’t be permitted to hoard firearms as Stephen Paddock did. LIBERALS ARE COMING FOR OUR GUNS! Gun rights activists scream, and my response is this: YES, WE ARE! It is high time we put an end to the gun culture in America with its attendant violence, carnage, and death. If Western nations such as Britain and Australia can strictly regulate firearms and drastically reduce gun violence, so can the United States. Whether we have the courage to do so, remains to be seen.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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Bruce Gerencser