Sunday’s church shooting in White Settlement, Texas, a reality seemingly cemented in the stark contrast of good versus evil; seems only to resonate in varying shades of gray as we slump back and again ponder the reasons why this continues to happen.
For some, the “minimal loss of life” in the aftermath of this tragedy, along with the quick riddance of a menace, breathes life and emboldens the battle cry from anti-gun control advocates and conservative politicians, alike. True, the potential losses were minimized by the quick actions of Jack Wilson and every one of those 240 parishioners will be forever thankful for his courage. I thank him equally as well. We all should.
But what consolation exists for the three people that died? Do we continue to find additional comfort that six people felt the need to arm themselves in a house of worship? Are we still impassioned in foregoing responsible gun control legislation in this country, even in light of a fellow armed parishioner counted as one of the dead? Is this what we want in America?
The NRA, which has frequently argued that immediately after shooting incidents is not the time to talk about gun control, used Twitter a few hours after the church tragedy, to suggest the potential mass killer may have been stopped because of changes to Texas gun laws. What changes you ask?
We can assume, due to changes that parlayed into additional leniency of gun control legislation currently on the Texas books, the NRA was pointing out that carrying concealed weapons into places of worship, was legalized after a 2017 massacre in another church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
But if Wilson is the example of a good guy with a gun who saved the day, what does the other armed parishioner who was killed represent? Will he become proof to gun control advocates that arming the well-intentioned doesn’t work? Analyses of the live-streamed video from the church are suggesting that several worshippers were armed and drew guns.
Citing statistics from the CDC, data shows that over 3,500 deaths were caused by gun violence in 2017 and the average is one victim every three hours in the state. Since 1999, Texas has seen a continuing increase in gun deaths, even with more lenient legislation in place. Texas is now home to four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history.
But the number of Texas guns is mostly unknown because residents are not required to register their firearms, and you can assume a significant percentage of gun owners do not. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says the state has 337,309 firearms but they only know that number from legal background checks. And that just spurs more questions after every public shooting.
We don’t know much about the suspect at White Settlement other than he had an arrest record, making some critics wonder how he even got a gun. But it is not illegal to sell a gun to a felon in Texas, unless you know he is a felon, which he isn’t likely to tell you since he is a felon and wants a gun. If you think that’s absurd, sit down right now and try writing an enforceable law that prevents it. There are sufficient loopholes in firearms regulations and such an abundance of supply of weapons that anyone in America can get a gun; good guy or bad guy.
Maybe it’s just us. Maybe we as Americans don’t have the will or the interest in undoing more than two-and-a-half centuries of a culture that emerged through the use of weapons. Maybe we’ve become numb to the crack of the gun shots, the partisan bickering and dividing wisdom of special interest groups.
The words of the Constitution were backed up by a gun; this country was birthed on the fervor of the Revolutionist and the volley of black-powdered lead; and saving the world from tyranny would not have been possible without men at arms, trained to kill. Even if guns beget more guns and more death, maybe nothing more than just their existence makes us feel safe and we are just afraid to temper that emotion with more sensible regulation.
I want to be clear that not all Texan’s believe that “packing heat” when taking communion, is the answer. Republican’ Texas also has a sizable population of liberals with guns. They hunt, shoot skeet, go to the firing range and argue for safer, responsible gun control. They are not hypocrites. Their arguments are nuanced and thoughtful, and they know there is no simple answer to gun violence, but increased regulations are a part of the solution.
Could be it’s just too damn late to change anything about who we are or how we live and how we chose to protect ourselves. Maybe the only thing left to do is seek cover.
Maybe all that’s left is to click the safety off and give our fellow parishioner cover fire when they go up to receive communion.