Sermons

Summary: in response to the Parkland massacre

On Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love, the expectation is that couples would enjoy a nice dinner, chocolates or roses, that would normally cause their hearts to flutter. However, this year on February 14th, hearts were not moved by love, but by the horror of yet another mass murder of our school children and teachers.

This brutal and senseless slaughter of 15 children and 2 teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., was the 17th occurrence of mass murders in our country in just six weeks – more than twice the number of such horrific events as in the same time period in 2017, the 24th massacre in the last 14 years since the ban on assault weapons was allowed to lapse by Congress, and the 72nd since the deadly Columbine massacre in 1999.[1]

Of course, mental illness is involved, but all nations have citizens who are mentally ill – none of them experience nearly the amount of violent shooting deaths that we do in the United States.

Of course, our law enforcement and educational institutions overlook possible ‘bad actors’, but the fine balance between guidance and coercion in the treatment of juveniles and the mentally ill is difficult to achieve.

Of course, we can blame video games, violent movies and TV shows, and the ‘culture of violence’ in our society for its influence on our citizenry – but almost all nations experience a similar culture, and yet they do not see their children gunned down on a regular basis.

There is one major difference, and all studies point to it: the vast proliferation of guns in our society – some 40 million, or 1 in every 9 people (including babies)! Gun regulation laws are ignored – the massive sale of all types of guns – including assault weapons, abound online, at gun shows, and even in Walmart! “Waiting periods” to check for felony records or mental problems are overlooked. The gun trade to Mexico and Latin America is a land office business. Our police now use military-style weapons on citizens for the least infraction – bolstered by the gun manufacturing industry that knows no limits. Is it any wonder that our nation is engaged in its longest war ever with no end in sight? Is it any wonder that we spend nearly 57% of our budget on our military and war supplies? In light of that, should we be perplexed that a “culture of violence” is killing our children in schools, where they should be safe and free from fear? Should we be surprised that the majority of these murders have been committed by assault weapons of mass destruction – guns made only for one thing: to kill huge numbers of people as fast as possible in a war setting!!

The appalling shame is that our state and federal lawmakers are paralyzed by inaction and denial, and the “gun lobby”, financed by gun manufacturers through the National Rifle Association, has bought their silence and inaction.

Since the lapse of the 1994 ban on assault weapons by Congress, our legislators have been financed/bribed by the National Rifle Association to make sure that no legislation will be enacted that might limit their power, or the profit of gun manufacturers. On the average, for each fire arm or accessory sold by arms manufacturers, $1 is contributed to the NRA; this creates a slush fund that they then pass on to legislator’s campaigns.[2] The amount of money ‘donated’ to legislator’s campaign funds since the enactment of Citizens United, has been more than any other PAC or super-PAC. A list of the top ten senators and representatives receiving money from the NRA can be found at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/04/opinion/thoughts-prayers-nra-funding-senators.html.

Recent polls have shown that responsible gun owners and most members of the NRA favor background checks. The use of assault weapons taints the image of the average gun owner. We have the cybernet and electronic communications to provide an immediate background check on anyone desiring to purchase a hand gun, whether at a certified gun dealer or at gun shows. If the purchaser really wants the fire arm for a collection or use in hunting or sport, they should be willing to wait the time needed to perform a background check. One has to wonder, if they are not willing to have a background check, what they are hiding. And, just as in driving a car, gun owners should be required to register their guns and complete a gun safety course.

The perpetrator of the Parkland School murders purchased the assault rifle and ammunition legally – he was 18. But it is mind-boggling that he could purchase an assault rifle at the age of 18, yet cannot purchase a hand gun until 21 in the state of Florida. Just as in the case of concealed-carry laws, there should be a national guideline, including training and proficiency requirements, enforced in all states. We do this with driver’s licenses.

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