Responsibility, Freedom and Uvalde

It’s incomprehensible that 325 million people can’t figure out how to keep their 18-year-old males from killing us and our children and grandchildren. We will hear a barrage of excuses, arguments, high-minded rationalizations and fatuous fears in the days ahead. I am feeling the despair I had after the massacre of babies that happened at Sandy Hook. We will pit gun rights versus safety for children, argue about paranoid conspiracy theories and generally avoid doing anything. Because that’s how we’ve turned away from the crisis.

Here’s the deal for me. You let an 18-year-old stroll in and buy body armor, unlimited ammunition, and long guns designed to kill masses of people legally. Now, would not let a five-year-old do the same. Guns are already regulated. We just debate how. You can’t buy nuclear bombs legally or bazookas or hellfire drones, so we’re simply dithering about the line.

To me, regulation and freedom cannot be separated because it is really about responsibility and freedom. Freedom can only be entrusted to people responsible enough to have it. You have to prove you’re responsible enough to borrow money to buy a house, drive a car and fly a plane. Politically we simply decide how hard or easy that is.

Cars don’t kill people, people in cars do. But we still require that you take Driver’s Ed to know what your’re doing, understand the laws, demonstrate ability to handle it and have insurance to cover liability for it. You can’t drive drunk or you will go to jail. Yes, people can ignore the law, but at least the police have the teeth to get you off the road.

When any 18-year-old male (I haven’t noticed masses of 18-year-old women doing many of these killings) strolls into a gun store and buys these weapons, I’d say red flags should go up. What to do? Ban or limit the purchases of mass-killing weapons? Limit ammo? Strengthen enforcement? Universal registration? Raise the age of ownership or put limits on it? There are hundreds of ideas out there. What isn’t out there is real leadership that refuses to do nothing yet again.

This isn’t insanity. It’s cynical and cowardly calculation. The people who can deal with this won’t. And we put up with it. And that’s it in a nutshell.

The funerals in Buffalo aren’t even finished. And now we have to bury teachers and sweet children and grandchildren. The right to life counts, too. I believe in the right to own a weapon. But I also believe in the requirement that you be responsible enough to operate it safely, with training and accountability and liability that goes with it. Until we come to terms with that, we’ll just continue offering lamentations and grief and sit helplessly by in the richest and most powerful nation on earth and wring our hands helplessly and tell our children, “That’s just the way it is.” Otherwise, Senators and Representatives, and governors and mayors and state representatives, do something new. This isn’t working.

Another Day of Terror: Holy Week Reflection

I woke up to the bad news from Brussels, Belgium today. We are so numbed to the violence on our globe, we have to wonder about the ambivalent gift of “information.” There is no time to digest, reflect, pray, consider. We are, instead, an endless echo of bad news cycles, compounded by the “unsocial media” that encourages the worst among us to speak loudly even if it is unworthy to hear. Here is the reflection I sent to my congregation today:


The recurring horror of terrorism is found in the terrorists themselves.  They are, finally, demented haters of life, of humanity, of our collective existence—that is the essence of terrorists’ acts. There is nothing in them but absolute despair of hope, and the desire to destroy it in all others for the sake of fantastic delusions of forcing the hand of the universe to bend to their will. There is nothing at the end of

Brussels Subway system attacked

their action except death and blood.

They are not new. Throughout all of history, they have killed, as governments and society seek to kill them in response. On and on the fatal disaster continues, hopelessly. It is into Holy Week that the latest delusion happens. In Brussels the fanatics strike civilization once more, convinced that they will prevail, and destined absolutely to fail.

Of all weeks, this one should comfort those who believe in Christ Jesus. Of all people, we began in a story of unjust death, amid terrorists who led people into the desert (Acts 21:38) and to the top of Masada only to die for nothing and their hopes dashed. Those who waved the palms would flee for their lives—and for what? The emptiness of a lost cause. Continue reading Another Day of Terror: Holy Week Reflection