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,