Another day, another mass shooting.
It's hard to know what to say about this that hasn't been said a hundred times already. Rev. Daniel N DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said it best:
This incomprehensibly tragic event joins an ever-growing list of mass shootings, some of which were also at Churches while people were worshipping and at prayer. We must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society. A Culture of Life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms. May the Lord, who Himself is Peace, send us His Spirit of charity and nonviolence to nurture His peace among us all.
We are often told that there's nothing we can do, by those who don't want us to do anything. And while it's true that no policy could stop every incident, there are policies that could stop one incident – or more than one. And as Jewish tradition teaches us: “He/She who saves one life, it is as if they have saved the whole world.” These measures include:
- Thorough background checks on all gun sales;
- Limiting the gun ownership of people who have a record of violence, including (especially) domestic violence; and
- Severe restrictions on the private ownership of weapons like the AR-15, which has been used in several of these mass shootings over the past several years. These could include the requirement to register and insure such weapons.
In addition, I'd like to see:
A much more robust funding of community mental health care services. I'm hesitant to “blame” this incident on the shooter's mental health, because that vilifies a community that is largely not violent, but on the other hand there's little doubt that someone who opens fire with a semi-automatic weapon in a church is not in his right mind. Yet we keep cutting access to mental health care, at precisely the moment when we need it the most.
Law enforcement should treat rudderless white men with a trunk full of weapons and a head full of right-wing propaganda as at least as much of a threat as Islamic radicalism. We get reports of how many ISIS podcasts the New York criminal had on his phone; how much InfoWars or such did the Sutherland Springs murderer have on his? I bet it's not zero.
Our society is saturated in violence, from the images we see to the policing that (some of us) face, to the news that we read, every single day. Mass shootings may not be the greatest in number, but they have a huge, debilitating psychological effect. We are all traumatized, all the time, by these incidents – and they just go on and on.
I believe that all of us, wherever we are on the “gun-rights” spectrum, can come to see this situation as comparable to drunk driving – we were able to come to a societal consensus on that, and design an approach that addressed the problem but didn't take away anyone's right to drive. Those who are the proverbial “responsible gun owners” should be as concerned as the rest of us. It's their trauma too.
We pray that the mourners be comforted, and that wounded healed. We also pray that we as a country get over our paralysis, and take some of the steps necessary to make sure that this Doesn't. Happen. Again.