By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – He killed them in a place of worship as they sat in their pews and prayed to their God.
Dressed in body armor as if he were in a war zone, he shot the young and the old, husbands, wives and children, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. He murdered eight members of one family, on his way to killing at least 25 people and wounding 20 others.
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
The president of the United States, who is so quick to call for legal remedies and call out perceived flaws in our legislative and justice systems when the atrocity involves an immigrant and a rented truck, asked for calm deliberation in the aftermath of the carnage in a Texas church. He said guns couldn’t be the problem.
Mental health is.
The president’s comments echoed those of the Texas attorney general, who said no gun law could have stopped the slaughter because the shooter was evil.
Maybe, but that still evades an essential question:
Why do we continue to make it so, so, so easy for the people who wish to do the rest of us harm to purchase weapons that will make their killing sprees oh-so-much less difficult? Why do we arm the people who want to kill us?
The people in that Texas church paid a high price for our abdication of moral responsibility, our unwillingness to confront our tragic and shameful record of gun violence. The dead and the wounded in the Lone Star state join a long line of our fellow citizens, our neighbors and friends, our brothers and sisters, who suffered and died while we indulge the strange fantasies fired by the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby.
We have seen people murdered by the dozens in a street in Nevada. At a club in Florida. In a movie theater in Colorado. At an elementary school in Connecticut.
There is no place in this country that has not been touched – no, scarred – by gun-related violence.
Make no mistake about it.
Tragedies such as these are a product of America’s gun culture. No other country on earth racks up the body counts that we do.
That’s not likely to change for as long as we continue to avoid the problem.
Before the bodies of the dead even had cooled and the tears of the mourners had stopped, the Texas attorney general said, as NRA true believers always do, that the solution was more, not fewer guns, in America. He called for armed guards at churches, schools and other public places. And he urged Americans to start carrying their guns to church.
That, in short, is the gun lobby’s vision for America.
We can choose to be either a police state or a free-fire zone.
It doesn’t matter to the NRA and its funders, the firearms manufacturers and gun sellers, so long as the cash registers continue to ring.
Every study of gun ownership patterns in this country not paid for by the gun lobby shows that while more and more firearms are being sold, fewer and fewer Americans are buying weapons. That means the people who own guns don’t have just a gun or two, but a stockpile.
It would benefit us to know if the troubled guy down the street has more guns than most military units, but that’s precisely the information the flacks for the gun lobby want to keep us from having.
They will say, as they have in Texas, that the alleged shooter had been denied a weapon, but skip over the fact that they have fought against having a database of people who shouldn’t have firearms so that the person who lies when buying a gun can be caught more easily.
They yell that background checks can’t work, as the NRA-endorsed attorney general in Nevada did, while refusing to acknowledge that his refusal to implement the universal-background-check law the voters approved might be part of the problem.
Meanwhile, the body count mounts, at every spot across the land.
The good folks in a Texas church died where they prayed, their sanctuary transformed into a house of terror.
May their souls forgive the rest of us for our cowardice.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.