Monday, December 17, 2012

God and Guns

I don’t know how many of you said a prayer when you heard the horrific news last Friday from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown or said a prayer on Sunday if you went to church.

I felt a huge tear in the moral fiber of our society on Friday and had to stop watching, reading and listening to the news.

The mayor of Newtown early on was quoted as saying “evil came to Newtown.”  I don’t see “evil.” What I see and what angers me is, what kind of God allows children to be murdered? In Sandy Hook Elementary School. In Afghanistan. In Africa. In homes in cities, town and villages around the world.

If the God you prayed to on Friday and Sunday is, as holy books like to say, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, He is as cruel and capricious as Hamlet’s gods, who “kill us for their sport.” If He is not omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, there is no supernatural “evil” that visited Newtown to stands outside God’s supernatural “good.”

Instead, we suffer again an all-too-human moral failure. A failure to make it harder for a murderer-- sane or insane-- to find and use the kind of semi-automatic weapon that make it possible to kill and maim so many so quickly, this time young children.

If the past is any indication of the future, murders with weapons like these will continue because there will continue to be access to weapons like these in America. There will be those who will blur the distinctions among guns and rifles and we will hear the mantras: “Guns don’t kill, people kill.” “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

Best then to make sure that every school administrator and teacher, every mall operator and merchant, every theater owner and usher— those responsible for every public space--  be required to have and be trained in emergency shutdown procedures to reduce the carnage from murderous situations.

That’s the society we’re living in and we need to watch out for each other and our children. Because God isn’t— and because there are many who believe it is their God-given right to have the very kinds of weapons that commit mayhem and murders.

--Mike Sato


  1. Not saying I don't agree with you. I am comfortable with guns being regulated. But I think part of the problem is also our comfort level with violence. When I rent a movie, almost every preview is a shoot-em-up, explosions here, scantily clad boob girls over there, victorious or even "happy" killings pervade. Our military industrial complex plays a big part in our violent collective psyche, not just the guns themselves. Look at other countries where guns are not only allowed but in some cases (like Switzerland) required and yet their murder rate is a fraction of what ours is.

  2. Mike, thank you for saying this so eloquently - not only expressing the deep sadness and revulsion that we are all feeling in the wake of this event, but also for having the courage to publicly question the assumptions about God, "evil" and gun ownership that seem so disturbingly prevalent and rooted in U.S. society.

    I use the adjective "U.S" here rather than "American" deliberately, since we Canadians share the continent and much of the culture - but at times like this, feel like we may as well be from different planets. For the most part, Canadians cannot begin to fathom the rationale for wanting to own or use a gun (let alone a rapid fire assault weapon) for any reason other than hunting.

    I agree with Tara that violence in popular culture is part of the problem and I hope that some action is taken to get rid of this, especially the killing-focused video games that too many young people are growing up with these days. But beyond that, I really do hope that someday soon, the God & Guns mentality that you write about will be part of U.S. history rather than its ongoing reality.


  3. "Amen, brother"! You said it so well. At times like these, which are happening way too frequently, I cannot help but think of the forefathers of the United States in provisioning the right to own guns. As intelligent and intellectual as they were, they would have never fathomed the type of weapons the ordinary person has available so readily today. It was a different time, a different world, with different laws. Those laws must change if we are to succeed in preventing such tragedies from happening over and over.

    However, the reality is that we may not see much change in our laws. The people get upset, rightfully so, and some of our lawmakers try to make a difference, only to be defeated by the powerful lobbying of gun rights groups.

    The most vocal opponents to gun control laws rant against the government "trying to take away my rights". I wonder if those same opponents stop for a moment to think of the rights that were taken away from 20 innocent children and 6 heroic protectors.

  4. Like many others, I hope 'this time is different' and a ban on assault-style weapons and ammunition is put in place and enforced. Even if it is, it will reduce, not eliminate, the risk of gun violence in public spaces. Seems like that's what it is to live in the U.S.A. these days, so best that each public space and its managers and employees be trained in procedures to minimize the mayhem-- when it occurs. Sad, it is, but unfortunately increasingly necessary.


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