Op-Ed

It’s not God and guns, it’s God or guns

A body was covered with a sheet after a mass shooting in which dozens were killed at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday, Oct. 1.
A body was covered with a sheet after a mass shooting in which dozens were killed at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday, Oct. 1. AP

Well, President Donald Trump and I are finally in agreement. Through White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, he said that now is not the time to talk about gun control.

Now is not the time.

That time was March 30, 1981 when John Hinckley, Jr. shot and seriously wounded Jim Brady; April 16, 2007 at Blacksburg, W. Va. when 23-year-old Seung-Hui Cho slaughtered 49 Virginia Tech students; January 8, 2011 after Jared Lee Loughner gunned down U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in a supermarket parking lot in Casas Adobes, Az.; December 14, 2012 at Newtown, Conn. when Adam Lanza shot and killed 28 souls at Sandy Hook Elementary school; October 16, 1991 at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Tx. when George Hennard executed 23 saints with a handgun; April 20, 1999 in Littleton, Colo. when two high school students massacred 37 fellow students at Columbine High School; December 2, 2015 when 14 people were shot to death in San Bernardino, Cal.; June 12, 2016 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Fla. when Omar Mateen shot 100 souls, killing half of them; July 20, 2012 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. when a gunman with multiple firearms killed 12 and injured 70 others.

That time was after any one of the more than 58,000 incidents of gun violence, that resulted in over 15,000 deaths and 30,000 injuries in 2016 alone. Or after any one of the more than 273 mass shooting this year (Gun Violence Archive).

But Congress continues its slavish support of the NRA. Nearly every elected Republican has followed big money and false propaganda to reject even basic, fair, and sensible gun laws that would reduce gun violence. Laws that most Americans support. Even 94 percent of Republicans polled supported background checks. Some 54 percent support a ban on assault-style weapons (compared to 80 percentof Democrats), and 89 percent support restrictions on the mentally ill from buying a gun.

The laws work. Ask Australia, which has not had a single mass murder, and saw a 20 percent drop in gun homicides after enacting reforms in 1996 following the Port Arthur massacre that killed 35 and injured 23.

Ask Massachusetts. As Senator Edward Markey said on MSNBC, his state has the toughest gun laws in the nation and has reduced gun fatalities by 60 percent in 20 years.

“Good people have no problem with identifying themselves. It’s the bad people who don’t want to be identified who use surreptitious ways which are now legal in order to purchase guns which can wreak havoc on communities across our country.”

But the “guns-above-all” party keeps shooting holes through our soul. Until the Vegas carnage they were even pushing a bill to allow silencers on these personal weapons of mass destruction. Can you imagine how many more could have been shot with a silencer?

Idolizing guns and treating them as the source of our salvation is molding a national heart of fear, suspicion, anxiety and despair.

The true foundation for a peaceful society lies not in guns, but in the universal moral values of the God they invoke at nearly every opportunity: acting with truth, loving all and doing justice.

We must stop letting them make a mockery of our oft-cited slogan, “in God we trust.” It is God or guns, not God and guns.

A recent dinner with Republican and Democrat friends gave me hope. We found we were all pretty much in agreement on the need for common sense gun law reform. If the current Republicans in Washington cannot be reasonable and do the right thing they all must go. It matters not who replaces them — Republican or Democrat or Independent. All that’s important is an eye to the greater good, an open heart and mind, and a willingness to be fair and reasonable.

A little humility wouldn’t hurt either.

Richard Dawahare is a Lexington attorney.

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