Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sutherland Springs Vigil: Examining the Idolatry of Guns

Twenty-six people were killed and twenty others wounded in the First Baptist Church at the Sunday Service on November 5, 2017 in a small town Sutherland Springs, not far from San Antonio, Texas. In the light of this terrible tragedy MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA held a Vigil service in downtown San Antonio in front of Madison Square Presbyterian Church. They invited Sister Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI, to speak.  
Photo by Lisa Uribe
These are some of the remarks that were shared: 

I have been around guns all my life. I grew up in south Texas, we have been farming and ranching since 1875. You never know when a rattle snake might come into the yard. Those deer are bad getting into good pasture land---and venison makes such good sausage and jerky. I’ve always been around guns, but guns are tools, like lawn mowers. My friend had her finger cut off by a lawn mower. You have to careful with all tools. Now the guns were in a high closet carefully hidden away. We knew that the guns were just tools and ones that needed to be handled very carefully.

How did we get to this point in our society that the guns are as looked to as the “saviors.” How did the tools get to be the idols that we worship? This change in attitude seems to have started during the presidency of General Ike Eisenhower. He had used guns in war, but when he left the presidency, he issued a warning that those who made guns, the military industrial complex were starting to dictate to the people that weapons would save us, that we must have more weapons. He spoke strongly of the great danger of letting the makers of weapons, the makers of guns dictate. People educated in democracy, human rights, diplomacy, and human relationships need to work for the common good. They need to think and not be puppets of the weapons manufacturers.

Let us be educated people and sensible people. When an alcoholic goes to an AA meeting, he/she must stand and say their name; for example: "I am Jane Doe and I am an alcoholic. I want to begin the process of rehabilitation." All of us as citizens must stand and say, "I am Martha Ann Kirk, I am a citizen of the United States, my nation has a violent national culture of which I am a part. I must recognize I am part of the problem and I am here to begin the journey to change our violent national culture."

Why is the US so violent? What can be controlled and not controlled? Though things will never be perfect, what can get better? Is there some sudden tendency to be violent when one crosses from Canada down into the US? Does the US have such bad racism that things are violent? Do we have more mentally ill people? Research has shown that the US is not extraordinary in those things.

“The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns. . .The top-line numbers suggest a correlation that, on further investigation, grows only clearer Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns. From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.

Adjusted for population, only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings among countries with more than 10 million people — a distinction Mr. Lankford urged to avoid outliers. Yemen has the world’s second-highest rate of gun ownership after the United States. Worldwide, Mr. Lankford found, a country’s rate of gun ownership correlated with the odds it would experience a mass shooting.” (From “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings?)

Guns do not kill people. People kill people BUT EASY ACCESS TO GUNS MAKES IT FASTER AND EASIER TO KILL PEOPLE. Global research indicates that, not a tendency to violence, but easy access to guns was the predictor of mass shootings.

While the US could and should do better providing care for the mentally ill,

“A 2015 study estimated that only 4 percent of American gun deaths could be attributed to mental health issues.  America’s gun homicide rate was 33 per million people in 2009, far exceeding the average among developed countries. In Canada and Britain, it was 5 per million and 0.7 per million, respectively, which also corresponds with differences in gun ownership. American crime is simply more lethal. . . A New Yorker is just as likely to be robbed as a Londoner, for instance, but the New Yorker is 54 times more likely to be killed in the process.” (“What Explains”)

“More gun ownership corresponds with more gun murders across virtually every axis: among developed countries, among American states, among American towns and cities and when controlling for crime rates. And gun control legislation tends to reduce gun murders, according to a recent analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries. . . The United States also has some of the world’s weakest controls over who may buy a gun and what sorts of guns may be owned.

“After Britain had a mass shooting in 1987, the country instituted strict gun control laws. So did Australia after a 1996 incident. But the United States has repeatedly faced the same calculus and determined that relatively unregulated gun ownership is worth the cost to society.

“In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.” (“What explains”)

Abusers’ access to guns increases the risk of intimate partner homicide as much as fivefold, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. (“Mass Shootings”)

Realize your power. We do not have to live in service to the weapons industry, the gun manufacturers, the NRA, we have freedom of speech, we can write letters to the editor, we can do research. We can elect sensible legislators.

WE do not have to worship guns as the saviors.

(More detail and background can be found in these sources used for this talk:

“What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings?International Comparisons Suggest an Answer. The Interpreter” By MAX FISHER and JOSH KELLER, New York Times, Nov. 7, 2017. 

“Mass Shootings Don’t Haveto Be Inevitable”  By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times, NOV. 6, 2017   

 “Demythologize the Gun,” Commonweal, By John Gehring, November 7, 2017

No comments:

Post a Comment