God, Guns, and Gays…

17 Dec

palin-gun-100309National tragedies provide us with many kinds of opportunities. As the country joins the people of Newtown, CT in mourning, we also celebrate the quiet heroism of the teachers and staff who helped keep the carnage from being any worse. Some paid for their bravery with their lives; others survived to help with the healing.

Sadly, too many of the usual suspects are clamoring to appropriate the suffering for their own nefarious purposes. Displaying his ususal KKKristian charity, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer blamed our constitutionally decreed religion-neutral society. Saying — without a hint of irony — that God is a gentleman who “will not go where he is not wanted,” Fischer claims that public school prayer and religious instruction would have resulted in the almighty stopping this tragedy in its tracks. Nor is he alone. Failed Presidential candidate, false compassionate conservative, and rightwing radio blowhard Mike Huckabee jumped on the same bandwagon.

We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?

Perhaps more to the point, why would we expect a narrowminded, violent Old Testament version of god to protect anyone? To wit, the loathsome legion from Westboro Baptist. Always willing to blame the LGBT community for, well, everything, they plan to picket around Sandy Hook Elementary, labelling the senseless slaughter of 26 innocent women and children as the “glory of God’s work in executing his judgment.” Nice choice of words, as always.

As those on the right rattle their sabers for God, the gun lobby tells everyone that now is not the time for politics, wanting to let the memory of this tragedy fade before we try to engage in a rational discussion about what kinds of weapons belong in the hands of everyday citizens. Over the past 15 years America has suffered far too many of these kinds of incidents — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, now Sandy Hook — and each time there’s a brief flare of “somebody ought to do something” followed by silence and inaction. Let us not forget about Gabrielle Giffords and the shootings in Arizona–Sarah Palin and her hungry gun culture ilk certainly have blood on their hands.

When a mentally ill man can grab legally purchased guns from his mother’s home and fire multiple rounds into the bodies of six- and seven-year-old children, there is something seriously wrong. USA Today published a powerful editorial that pointed out three things we need to look at quickly and carefully.

  • How do we enforce the laws that already exist to minimize the risks and damage?
  • What commonsense restrictions on automatic weapons and military style ammunition do we need to put in place?
  • How can we strengthen the safety net for the mentallly ill to provide them the support they need to minimize the risk of this kind of break?

We cannot let these deaths, adding to the tragic and rapidly mounting toll, be in vain. We must have hard conversations and take decisive action.

UPDATE: As the details roll in and the country continues to mourn the devastating and horrifically violent deaths, the call for sensible revision of gun laws is heating up in the nation’s capital. President Obama wisely noted

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.

The NRA and other guns and ammo groups, meanwhile, remain silent, at best offering tepid sympathy for the families.

Staunch gun supporter Sen. Joe Manchin (D – WV), a lifetime member of the NRA, is also pushing for change.

I just came with my family from deer hunting. I’ve never had more than three shells in a clip. Sometimes you don’t get more than one shot anyway at a deer. It’s common sense. It’s time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common sense discussion and move in a reasonable way.

Incoming Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D – ND) and Joe Donnelly (D – IN), also supporters of gun rights, are vowing to help change laws to protect the innocent when they are sworn in in January. They’ll join longstanding advocates of gun control like Charles Schumer (D – NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D – CA). Let’s hope they can build the momentum to transform tragedy into action.


13 Responses to “God, Guns, and Gays…”

  1. Bruce Kestelman December 17, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Thanks Michael. I’m thinking that we are all one, and if not me, then who?

    I’m not sure that we shouldn’t allow at least a little time for reflection and mourning and grieving. Yet, not too much time and too many excuses.



    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 17, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      Bruce, you are such a lovely human being. By no means do I want to intrude on Newtown. I do want us all to stand in solidarity with all families that have lost loved ones because of guns. Peace,

  2. Christine Noble December 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    That last point about mental health is really important. We have to stop stigmatizing mental illness so those that suffer from it, and their loved ones, seek out help.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

      We have so much ground yet to cover in how we help people with mental illness and reduce stigma. Let us hope the world is ready to start having these courageous conversations.

  3. nevercontrary December 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    How do you get someone to listen to anything you have to say when they have built up such a high wall of religious hate around themselves?

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

      It is more than daunting, yes. I suppose we must continue to chip away at their hate.

  4. Will S. December 18, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    “How can we strengthen the safety net for the mentallly ill to provide them the support they need to minimize the risk of this kind of break?”

    That’s a point that’s all too often overlooked with events like this. Ever since Reagan wiped out almost all of the federal support for mental health facilities, there have been entirely too many people with mental illnesses going undiagnosed and/or untreated. Small wonder, then, that we see more people with mental illness out doing this kind of thing. It’s not that it never happened before, but at least we were attempting to address it.

    Instead, people get tunnel vision over either gun control or religion, which falls right in to the right wing trap of stoking fear and conflict, rather than focusing on what we actually can do about the problem. This is not to say that I’m opposed to gun control, because I’m really not. But even if we were to ban all firearms, well, look at the drug war. What needs to happen is better mental health screenings and background checks. I still don’t think we can prevent 100% of tragedies like this, but every little bit helps.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 18, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      As usual you make many good points here, specifically around Reagan defunding resources for those with mental health issues. Consequently, the population experiencing homelessness and mental health issues has increased exponentially. Of course, it is a more complex equation including religion, fear mongering, and our shameful inability to care for our citizen’s mental health. I am also troubled by the race dynamic at play here. We still profile people of color in ways we never profile young white men. I must believe there is a way to care for all.

  5. katybrandes December 18, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    You seem to always have a way of expressing your feelings in a very thought-out, articulate, and unapologetic way that I greatly admire. I certainly don’t mean to “high-jack” your post but thought you might like this response to Huckabee’s flippant attitude:


    Carry on!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

      Thank you for your kind remarks. I, too, find your comments sensitive and thoughtful. By no means are you high-jacking my article. In fact, it was refreshing to read Kimberly Burkett’s letter to the odious Huckabee.
      With gratitude,

  6. Andrew Bailis December 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Control the distribution of bullets, and leave the guns less deadly by this action. Place unique tracers on every bullet. Then let the shooter know that he will be traced.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

      Many don’t care if the bullet is traced, nor does it impact people who may steal the guns. Consequently, I think we are back to some serious gun control.


  1. God, Guns, and Gays… « Central Oregon Coast NOW - December 17, 2012

    […] God, Guns, and Gays…. […]

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