America Still Has Half a Soul. For Now. | Carl E. Olson | Editorial | Catholic World Report
The recent shootings in Connecticut and Oregon reveal the good, the bad, and the unspoken in our nation.
I got a late start yesterday morning and didn't hear the news until a few hours after it broke. My wife had an appointment, and so I made breakfast for our three (home schooled) children, ages four, eight, and twelve. When I first read of the assault and massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I felt ill. It was gut wrenching. I thought for a bit about our three children: “What if…?” I couldn't fathom the horrible news, and yet, honestly, it didn't shock me. Just a few days ago, a young man opened fire in the Clackamas Town Center in Portland, Oregon, just two hours north of us, where years ago my wife worked when we were first married. Three people were shot, two of them fatally; the 22-year-old murderer then took his own life.
I also thought back to May 1998, when a fifteen-year-old boy, Kip Kinkel, opened fire at Thurston High School, just a few short miles from where I lived and worked. Two students were killed, and many more injured, before Kinkel was subdued by seven of his fellow students. The evening prior, Kinkel had murdered his parents—both of them teachers—with guns his father had purchased for him, along with a stolen gun he had bought from a friend.
And then I thought back to another young boy, who had been raised around guns—lots of them. His father was a gunsmith, and there were numerous guns in his father's shop, as well as guns—mostly hunting rifles—in the house. The boy assumed everyone had guns and used them for hunting and target practice, in large part because nearly everyone he knew did exactly that. There were two fatal shootings in his hometown during his childhood, both of them suicides by men overwhelmed by alcoholism and other problems. He was never tempted to shoot anyone with a gun; in fact, the very thought was as revolting and it was ridiculous, as he and his friends took seriously the privilege of having and shooting a gun, just as they took seriously the injunction, “Thou shalt not murder.”
Yes, I was that young boy. And I thought of my childhood again when, just a few hours after the shootings in Connecticut, I received an e-mail from the lefty group, Catholics United, containing the following:
Catholics United Executive Director James Salt released the following statement in reaction to this morning’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.:
"Today’s shooting is yet another horrific marker in a seemingly endless cycle of gun violence in America. As we mourn the dead and send thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims of this senseless act, we know prayer alone is not enough.
"As Catholics who support the social justice achievements of this President, we are disappointed in his lack of action in working to prevent these heinous acts of violence. We call on President Obama to find the courage to lead our nation and help bring a true and lasting end to gun violence.
"We need an immediate national dialogue on preventing yet another American family from having to go through Christmas without the loved ones they lost to gun violence. When will we stop setting the price of our freedoms at the blood of innocent children? We pray our elected leaders have the courage to face up to intransigent special interests and engage in a serious discussion of how to end--permanently--the cycle of gun violence in America."
Yes, indeed—when we will have a serious discussion about the blood of innocent children? When will we face up to the violence that takes place on a regular basis against the youngest and most vulnerable among us? When will the cycle of daily violence against young boys and girls cease? When?