Please Don’t Call It “Senseless”

Was It Really “Senseless”?

Of all the words pundits are using to try to make sense of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the one that makes no sense to me is “senseless.”

If by “senseless” you mean “unconscious” as in “I was knocked senseless,” you may have a point. The sheer magnitude of the devastation, the reality of the blood and gore, the immensity of the pain, the depth of the sorrow can overwhelm our senses and leave us stunned, nearly incapable of any response other than tears.  Our assurance is that the Spirit prays within us with “agonizing longings which never find words.”  (Romans 8:26)

But if by “senseless” you mean “done for no reason, nonsensical, lacking sense or meaning,” I beg to differ. In its own diabolical way, this horrendous event makes perfect sense.  

The Recipe for Death 

We may not know everything, but know enough to name the primary ingredients that produce this deadly stew.  

  • Begin with a violent male (there has only been one woman involved in our recent history of mass killings) who, for whatever complex concoction of reasons, has a history of anger, resentment, spouse abuse, racism and hostility to gay men.
  • Add a dash of an apparent inner conflict with his own same-sex attraction.
  • Measure a spoonful of ISIS radicalism that turns home grown terrorists into martyrs.
  • Stir in a generous helping of the easy availability ammunition and guns.
  • Mix it together in an emotional pressure cooker flavored with virulent fear-mongering and boiling over with political rhetoric that gives voice to the worst prejudices, hatreds and fears that ferment in the basement of our culture.
  • Bring it to a boil with the assurance that the gun-lobby-owned cooks in the Congressional kitchen will do nothing to turn down the heat.
  • Serve it up in a place where it can do horrendous damage.
  • Call for prayers and moments of silence to honor the dead.
  • Prepare for it to happen again.

It just makes sense.

The Consistent Ingredient 

One thing that really is “senseless” — meaning “without sense or reason” — is why we do not deal with the one ingredient all of these mass shootings have in common, namely, some version of an “assault” rifle. (I realize that term is used loosely and that AR does not stand for “assault rifle,” but the AR-15 has been the weapon of choice in 13 of our recent mass shootings.)

It’s also senseless is that while 90% of the American people (87% of the Republicans) support background checks for gun purchases, every effort to implement them has been defeated in Congress.  But even that makes sense when you “follow the money.”

Let’s be clear: No one (including Hillary Clinton) intends to “abolish the second amendment,” regardless of how many times Trump says it.  But if we can reduce the number of deaths in car accidents by requiring seat belts and if we can reduce the deaths by lung cancer by banning smoking in public places, then why can’t we save at least a few lives with reasonable gun control?  (President Obama spoke eloquently to this in an NPR Town Hall.)

It just makes sense.

Grace and peace,








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8 thoughts on “Please Don’t Call It “Senseless”

  1. Jim, Great piece. Worthy of an oped. Send to Sentinel and Times any any other paper you can contact.

    One typo. Turn down the heat, not heart.

    ISIS is neither a religious bor political entity. It is merely a super-magnet for sociopaths.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Well written Jim. I always enjoy reading your blogs. Seems like time well spent. You might, however, spend some more time proof reading your blogs before sending.

    Jeff Stiggins.

    Sent from my iPad

    Dr. Jeff Stiggins 321-223-0557 Cell

    1. Jeff: Thanks! Hope you and Sue are doing well. Thanks for catching the typo!

  3. I deeply resonate with your opposition to describing the mass shooting as “senseless” (lacking sense or meaning). Your post raises the following question: If we enact stricter gun control policies or even take away the guns, would such violence decrease? Gun control is undoubtedly an important step, but the root cause of the tragedy was hatred. In what ways can we yank out the hatred at its roots?

    1. I agree that the roots causes go much deeper and have no illusion that reasonable gun control would end all violence any moe than seat belts end all deaths in car accidents, but the evidence is that it could make a difference.

  4. CARMEN CUNNINGHAM June 15, 2016 — 2:18 am

    Well said. Carmen

  5. I always enjoy your point of view Jim. I think we all realize gun control laws need to be tightened up.
    The latest blunder allowed a radicalized young man who was already on the FBI watch list to buy guns and ammo. and consequently murder 50 young people. There should’ve been a flag on him!! That is not hard to see. I feel so helpless in all of this. The people we voted in to act on behalf of the safety of the citizens of this country are not doing their job. The money trail is too tempting. We really need a good house cleaning in Washington.
    Evil comes in many disguises. It will always find a way to cause pain and suffering…but red flags for gun purchases by people who are believed to be radicalized would go along way toward saving another 50 innocent people.
    Best to you and Marsha!

  6. Jim, thank you for putting it so succinctly. Problems like the one in Orlando, a place I know is dear to your heart, and the others places of mass killings, don’t go away by themselves. The Republicans want to have it both ways. They want to be “tough on crime” and at the same time support their interpretation of the 2nd amendment. It’s well past the time when Christians spoke out about the real message Christ brought to this world, that we love one another. Hate is the product of fear, and those who use fear as political battle cry need to be called to task publicly by those who really understand to message of love.

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