I have a new book coming soon from The Wild Rose Press but I can’t find the fortitude to gush on and on about how wonderful this book is, how awesome the cover is (and it really is, though I can’t share it just yet because it hasn’t been approved by the art department at TWRP), or even how great I think the characters are. Right now, my heart is heavy and aching.
The other night, a very deranged and mentally ill person sat in on a Bible study/prayer meeting in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina and when the meeting was over, this person opened fire and killed nine people. He did this for no other reason than he is very ill. He is an admitted white supremist and he is a racist. He is a thug. He became what he claimed to fear—something less than human, something with no redeeming attributes. He did this with an illegally obtained handgun. And, he committed these murders because he wanted to start a race war.
Needless to say, both sides on the handgun debate immediately lined up and began pointing fingers and making wild accusations. I won’t go into all the arguments here. I will say this about the debate—the right to own a weapon is a Constitutionally guaranteed right and stricter handgun laws will not solve our problem with gun violence. The problem isn’t the handgun—it’s the hearts and souls of those who pick up a gun with the sole intent to destroy the lives of others. Chicago has the strictest and most restrictive gun laws on the books. Has anyone looked at the handgun murder rate in the city of Chicago recently? Those laws haven’t even dented the murder rate there. But, when threatened—citizens want the ability to protect themselves with lethal force, if necessary. Just ask the majority of the citizens around the prison in upstate New York where those two escaped murderers were believed to be.
This racist, hate-filled, fearful person was using a gun he could not legally own—due to a previous felony conviction and alleged to be on anti-psychotic/anti-depression drugs. Instead, his father bought him the gun for his birthday. That’s parenting done right—NOT!
We blame the gun when those such as this racist use that instrument to kill others. We don’t blame the car when an inebriated person gets behind the wheel and makes the choice to drive in that condition and takes the lives of others through his impaired driving. We rightly blame the driver. We didn’t blame the manufacturers of pressure cookers, nails, screws, and bottles when two men chose to use those items to create a bomb which they detonated at the Boston Marathon a couple of years ago. We rightly blamed those two hate filled young men. We didn’t blame the jet craft when twelve hate filled men hijacked them and flew them into the Twin Towers, into the Pentagon, and almost into the Capitol Building in D.C. We rightly blamed those hate-filled men.
We are asked when acts of terrorism touch us to not paint an entire religion with the black brush of hatred that the terrorists paint themselves, but when a horrific crime such as the murders of nine people within a church is perpetrated by a thug and racist and terrorist (which using the definition of the word, he is and with his stated goal of trying to start a race war, he became), many in our society are swift to paint every law-abiding gun owner with the blackest of brushes. Why do we insist on blaming the gun?
My heart is heavy and aching, but it is also filled with hope. At this man’s arraignment and bail hearing, the judge did something which was within his right to do. He allowed members of the families of those victims to speak. One after another, those family members spoke of their heart-ache, of their grief, of even their anger. And one after another said they forgave him and asked for God’s mercy on him. They are much stronger, much better people than I could be. May God grant these families peace and solace in their time of sorrow, and may God have mercy on that young man’s soul—because I don’t think I could be merciful to him.