The Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut is one of the most horrific spree killings we have had in our nation, ever. And none of them seem to ever have any effect on our lax national gun laws. There are many other problems at stake here too, such as care for the mentally ill, media violence, media sensationalization of spree killers, and so on. But the gun aspect of this is obvious. It just happens over and over again. Predictable. Expected. Routine.
Why then do we never seem to take measures to stop future massacres?
I have no answer, I just have a comparison.
The Hebrew Scriptures have a recurrent theme of child sacrifice. Child sacrifice was something the Hebrew’s neighboring tribes did; these were the behaviors of Moloch and Baal worshippers. Child sacrifice was NOT something God wanted of his people, as is made clear over and over again in many and various ways.
We have accepted child sacrifice in our culture, and one of the idols we have chosen is the gun. In our culture we idolize guns and we implicitly recognize these periodic mass-murders and daily gun violence as an acceptable side-effect of our mania for power and violence.
This is horribly wrong, and only a true believer in the gun god can’t see the connection. Nicholas Kristof reported (h/t Charlie Camosy) that the NRA commented that the school attack in China, with a knife, shows that it’s not just a gun problem. But NONE of those children died. Still absolutely horrible! But alive. Only the true believer in the gun god cannot see the connection.
Other countries do not have this problem; this is an American gun-cult problem.
Are guns really a cult? Guns freed us from Britain and “tamed” the Wild West (by murdering the natives). Guns protect the righteous from evil (so it is said). People get an emotional high from practicing the faith (gun shops, shooting ranges, and gun shows). And the Second Amendment is the Holy Writ.
We have a cult with an origin myth and glorious history, practical good consequences (for some), collective effervescent feelings, and a religious text.
This is, needless to say, a religion of death. No matter how it is wrapped in patriotism and righteousness, if your first instinct after a mass shooting is to declare that guns are not the problem you are a true believer in the gun god. Please find a better god.
I am otherwise at a loss for words, so to close I am just going to post three links.
Garry Wills says much the same as I do here, but more eloquently. I wrote this before reading his, but I guess this idea’s time has come. Maybe that means we can finally begin to purge ourselves of this demonic faith.