A lethal mixture of fundamentalism and mental illness

by Richard on December 18, 2012

The terrible events in Newtown last week have quite rightly reverberated around the world. There can be no response to such things other than sorrow and anguished silence. If anything, the shock was greater even than that caused by 9/11: bringing such targeted, calculated violence to what should have been a place of nurture and safety was a crime beyond words.

But if sorrow was universal, silence was not. The echoes of the gunshots at Sandyhook had hardly died away before the clamour of justifying cliches began. Guns don’t kill people, people do. Guns keep people safe - if only someone in the school had been armed. What this proves is that you have to keep guns out of the hands of nutjobs. It could only happen because there’s no prayer in the public schools. Yada yada yada.

How many of these mass shootings must the US endure before its people come to their senses and realise that they have a massive problem with firearms? How many more children have to die?

The right to bear arms is deeply ingrained and highly cherished, but I’m obliged to ask: is that right worth even the life of one child? (Someone else’s child, presumably)

Surely it is time for the US to give up it’s selectively fundamentalist reading of the 2nd amendment. Selectively? Yes, indeed. The ‘right to bear arms’ is predicated on the need for ‘a well-regulated militia’. But it is no longer true that a ‘well-regulated Militia’ is ‘necessary to the security of a free State’. Where in the modern civilised world would you find such a thing? Certainly not the good old US of A. In any case, as many others have pointed out, this amendment was made at a time when a typical firearm was hand made, single shot, slow to load and of limited range: a far cry from the weapons which are widely available to Joe Public today. Every preacher knows, or should know, that a text without a context is just a pretext. What’s true of the Bible is just as true of the US constitution and its amendments. Context is everything.

Much has been made of Adam Lanza’s mental health, but the more important question is what these event tell us about the collective mental health of a nation addicted to gun ownership. The simple truth is that the US has far too many firearms for its own good. Paranoia about personal safety and security has driven a society to accept levels of violence that would cause an outcry in most other western nations. People keep guns for their own protection, and in so doing make everyone more vulnerable to their misuse.

But there is an easy way for the law-abiding to prove that they’re not addicted to their weapons: give them up. Hand them over. Get them decommissioned. But don’t give in to the demon voices telling you that you need them to keep you safe.

Because they’re killing you. And your children.

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Speaking Foolishly about God and Tragedy
12.20.12 at 4:07 pm

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }


Christy Thomas 12.18.12 at 6:54 pm

Thank you for speaking so clearly from the distance. We here in the US have been held hostage by a few and the damage is giant. I can only hope that this horror is at least a tiny bit redeemed by a nation that repents of violence and renounces the gun culture decisively.

An editorial in my local newspaper today actually called for teachers to be armed in response to this. Unbelievable.


Mark Byron 12.21.12 at 9:25 pm

Thanks for committing a majority of Americans. What states would you recommend for the first mass asylum? Texas, perhaps, except the Mexicans won’t want it on the border.


Richard 12.22.12 at 7:26 am

From this side of the Atlantic, there does appear to be a kind of collective madness about firearms in the USA, Mark. The performance of the NRA yesterday simply confirms it.

I was looking at the Walmart website the other day. How can anyone think it is a good idea to have semi-automatic rifles with 30round-clip-as-standard freely available? The only circumstances where I can think it is necessary to shoot 30 bullets without the inconvenience of a reload is combat. They’re not being sold for that, are they?

No one has been able to explain to me why the 2nd amendment still applies, since it’s opening clause (”A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state”) is clearly no longer true. How many free states do in fact have a militia, well-regulated or otherwise?

The ‘benefits’ of private gun ownership are largely illusory. What we’d call here “have a go heroes” with guns tend to make situations worse, not better.

From where I stand, the US appears addicted to its weapons. And like mmany ost addicts, it struggles to recognise it has a problem.


Kim 12.22.12 at 8:18 am

I thought Texas was a mass asylum.

The good book says that he that lives by the sword shall perish by the sword, said the black.
The judge smiled, his face shining with grease. What right man would have it any other way? he said.
From Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian


Jake 12.27.12 at 11:07 pm

If you don’t live here, it’s hard to grasp the reasons why we are so ‘gun crazy’.

As for Mark and Kim, thanks for the judgement in general about Texas. Kind of like me saying all Marks and Kims are as sharp as a spoon.


Kim 12.28.12 at 9:30 am

You know the old saying, Jake: you can always tell a Texan — but you can’t tell him much! Rather like a New Yorker ;) .

Happy New Year, mate. As for a resolution …


Jake 12.28.12 at 2:13 pm

HA! Tis true.

W/O getting long winded here, I once was on the phone with a girl from New York. After about 10 minutes of conversation we started to laugh at each other. According to her, I spoke so slow that she she was already three thoughts ahead and I could only understand every thrid word she spoke cause she spoke so fast. Hollywood couldn’t have scripted the sterotypes it any better.

Hope you and yours have a great New Year and let us pray that 2013 will trully be a year of our Lord and Savior across our land.


steve 01.07.13 at 11:17 am

My goodness, I do believe I am being demonized.
Fact is we need a militia now more than ever, as our “leaders” militarize and centralize local police forces, use torture and assassination in worldwide foreign wars and otherwise tear to shreds the Constitution.
Oppressed people everywhere need the means for self- defense.


Richard 01.07.13 at 12:36 pm

But the militias don’t exist, do they?

If you’re seriously suggesting that the citizens of the USA are oppressed, I suggest you need to get some perspective.

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