In America, fear has replaced trust in God. The most potent symbol of that is our mandatory gun worship. Our money says “In God We Trust,” but “In Fear We Trust” is our true motto.
We can no longer even have a conversation about gun control because the pro-gun people will shut it down. In truth, some Americans are so afraid of each other that they think they need a gun. And not just one gun, lots of them.
And what is worse, they are so afraid, that any attempt to discuss gun violence is met with violent, hate-filled rejection.
In the small village of Constantine, Michigan, a village council member decided to open a conversation about gun violence. Village President Pat Weiss had read a December 2015 NYT editorial decrying gun violence, and felt the issue deserved a wider hearing. Alarmed by the growing risk of dying by gunshot, she worked hard to make those conversations happen.
Her timing was perfect, because nearby Kalamazoo was reeling from a mass shooting of its own. On Feb. 20th, 2016, a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage that killed 6 people and left 2 others critically injured. Gene Kopf, father of one of the victims of that killing spree, attended the final Constantine village meeting to talk about the need to address gun violence.
It’s important to understand that this was only a conversation. There was never a question about banning guns or even remotely challenging the right of the citizens of rural Constantine to bear arms. And yet, Ms. Weiss was verbally attacked and threatened in a series of angry meetings for daring to suggest that gun violence is a problem around here:
In the end, the debate was shut down. And after Ms. Weiss’ experience, it is highly unlikely anyone else in Constantine will have the courage to try again.
How did so many of us ever get so mean about this?
Maybe it was when the National Rifle Association, not content with selling guns to hunters, began marketing them to women and children.
Or was it when some of us decided to blithely ignore the obvious correlation between high rates of gun ownership and high rates of shooting deaths?
I think the tipping point occurred when our ultimate security become invested in a weapon, instead of fair laws and peaceful neighborhoods where we cared for, and about, each other.
Ultimately I don’t think it’s about guns at all. I think it’s about the fear that has somehow replaced America’s trust in God and each other. And that’s the scariest thing of all. Because when fear becomes the higher power we worship, then weapons become sacred and death becomes our bitter offering.
Please, stop worshiping the wrong God, America. Disarm. Australia did, and saw the risk of dying by gunshot in their country fall by over 50%.
It has to be possible for America to stop worshiping fear. We have to talk about that.