Friday, January 11, 2013

Another D@mn School Shooting

This time it happened in California.  You can read the story here.
Normally,  I don't do this,  but for the sake of argument, let's play the blame game.  Who is to blame for this shooting?
Please note, I did not ask who was responsible.  The shooter is obviously responsible for his own actions.  What I am after is who or what to blame.  Let's list some possibilities:
We can blame the shooter himself to begin with, who obviously didn't have very good coping mechanisms.
Yet,  I don't think we can stop there because we get our coping mechanisms from our families.  Therefore we can blame the shooter's family for not doing a better job of raising their kid.
Oh, but wait, how we raise our kids is often influenced greatly by the surrounding culture and peer group as well as our families.  Therefore, we must spread some blame to the family's peer group as well as any the authors of any books the family read pertaining to parenting as well as any television counselors the family saw and followed concerning child rearing.  And we must blame previous generations for instilling their thoughts on child rearing on the shooter's parents.
Yet, this seems inadequate considering the student said that he was bullied.  Doesn't the bully share some of the blame?  Shouldn't he be held accountable in some fashion as he contributed to the circumstances leading up to the shooting?
And if we learn such bullying behavior in our families,  then doesn't the shooter's family deserve some blame?  And, of course,  this family was influenced by their peer group and the surrounding culture and previous family members as well.
But what about the school and the teachers and coaches?  Shouldn't they have been more proactive in watching the dynamics between students?  Shouldn't they have been more diligent in observing how athletes treated others?  Shouldn't they have caught this before it had a chance to escalate?
And what about the other students?  Did they not have opportunity to either address the bullying themselves or reach out to the bullied to offer support, compassion, or care that might have prevented this from going too far?
Or what about Hollywood which revels in telling stories about the weak guy who became strong and exacted revenge upon those who bullied him in the first place?
What about those violent video games which stimulate those portions of our brains prone to violence and make killing entertainment?
And what about the ease of the shooter to obtain his brother's shot gun?  Shouldn't the ease of access to the weapon share some of the blame?
Oh, I guess we can begin blaming the NRA for its stance on the right to bear arms.
And where was the Church or other organized religion in this ordeal?  Why weren't they reaching out to the shooter to show him another way of handling being bullied?  Why weren't they reaching out to the alleged bully football player teaching him that strength is best used to protect instead of inflict harm?
Is there anyone else we can add to this list?  I am quite sure it has not been exhausted yet.  I haven't said anything about blaming the media, Democrats, Republicans, or even God.  I'm sure I could spread some blame there as well.
But perhaps I don't need to.  Perhaps you have already come to see the point of this post.  Perhaps you have come to see the futility in placing blame.  But I have no doubt there will be a myriad of pundits once again trying to assessed it and fix the problem.
But the problem is actually quite complex when trying to assess blame and then fix.  Once again it boils down to human nature and the way the world works.  This is why when people stop and think after tragic events, they often come to the conclusion that nothing really can be done to solve the problem.  You and I cannot fix what is wrong with the world or what is wrong with humanity.
The best we can do is turn to the One who can and beseech Him to get busy working on His promised transformation.  And, it would behoove each of us to remember that transformation is desperately needed within us and that as such transformation occurs within each of us, it slowly but surely addresses the problem -- piece by piece, individual by individual.


Gary said...

Absolutely prayer and individual spiritual transformation is needed.

But I believe in putting "feet" to my prayers: every Christian should do his/her part to decrease the easy accessibility of guns to the mental ill and criminals. Which is more important? Your second ammendment right to "bear arms" or a child or other innocent victim's life.

Support common sense gun control! Stopping buying into the Gun Lobby's "slippery slope" scare tactics (the government is coming for your hunting rifle).

God gave us common sense. Let's use it!

Kevin Haug said...

Thank you for commenting, Gary.

I'm not sure if you assume that I do not believe that I think feet shouldn't be put to my prayers, but rest assured, I do. However, I believe those feet need to take much different forms than perhaps many in the church today.

I do not believe in lobbying governments to make those prayers come true. Jesus never lobbied a government official once. Not at all. I've been asked, "Would Jesus be against banning assault weapons."

My respose upon thought, "Would Jesus actively work to ban assault weapons, or would He go after something deeper?"

Too often, I believe the Church has taken the easy way out. Whether it is the Christian-left or the Christian-right, instead of doing the hard work of making disciples, these groups have lobbied to change national laws and impose their versions of Christianity.

Statistically, countries that have implemented gun control--even the banning of guns--have not seen a decrease in the rate of murder, suicide, or violent crime. Common sense tells us, gun control will do no good because it fails to address the real problem: the condition of the human spirit and heart.

Secondly, how is it that we have a problem when the FBI reports that murder and other violent crimes continue to trend downward? There is no uptick in said crime. We are actually seeing less and less crime in our communities and neighborhoods across the board. Why do we have the perception things are awful when they are actually getting better? What happened to common sense here, or our perceptions warped by the incessant desire for news 24/7?

Common sense, I believe compels us in the church to return to the business Jesus first instructed it to be about: making disciples, not making laws. If we worked in this area as instructed, the results would be heartening, I believe.

Unfortunately, the answer I give is usually pretty unpopular. It requires much work, self-sacrifice, and engagement with others who do not share our points of view. But I am a fool for Christ and an eternal optomist.

Gary said...

I don't believe that God wants us to withdraw from the world and not participate in trying to make it a better, safer place for all.

I don't agree with your statistics. 80% of all children killed in the world by guns are killed in the United States.

No other country has the number of school shootings as the US.

I support the second ammendment right to bear arms. I have guns myself. But just as no citizen should be allowed to own a rocket launcher, no citizen needs an automatic rifle. No citizen needs a magazine of 50-100 rounds.

I'm asking for common sense gun regulations, not the seizure of all guns. The Gun Lobby opposes ANY regulations, including a background check to make sure someone is not a terrorist. Their reasoning is based on paranoia. "Give an inch and the next step will be banning all guns."

We require more government intrusion into our lives to get a license to drive a car than we do letting anyone purchase a semi-automatic rifle. That's just plain stupidity.

Common Sense Gun regulations:

-ALL gun purchases require a background check.
-all gun purchases have a three day (cooling off) waiting period.
-All semi-automatic weapons are banned.
-the sale of bullets for such weapons is banned.

I'm "middle America". I and the rest of the majority in this country are NOT going to let the government take your hunting rifle and six shooter. It's not going to happen. Please stop listeing to the paranoia of the Far Right!

Kathy said...

I do think Jesus would actively work to ban assault weapons.

Kevin, I think you are really over-reacting. This is a complex issue. Your hunting rifle is safe.

We have to do something to make a dent in the culture of violence.

I personally think it is ridiculous for the President to worry about a few dead kids, and then allow for thousands and thousands of abortions. Makes zero sense to me.

I spent many, many long hard years fighting the Abortion War, and finally gave up. The gun issue is really a lot less serious. I think Jesus is much more worried about abortion.

If you want to get upset about something, ask the ELCA why they cover abortion in their health plan, and why they do not speak out against it. That alone would be enough for me to leave the ELCA.

Kevin Haug said...

Gary, my statistics aren't mine. They are the FBI's. And while it is true that more children are killed by gun in the U.S., I think it would be prudent to break down how many are killed by accident and how many are murdered. And as far as that is concerned it would also be prudent to see if the murderer rate of children on the U.S. compares to the murderer rate of the rest of the industrialized world. If the murderer rate is consistent, the the issue is not guns, but runs much deeper.

The issue of need versus want is a spiritual issue as there are many who obtain more than a few things the don't need but simply want. The honest truth of the matter is that there are by far many semi-automatic owners who have done nothing wrong and a hand full who have crossed the line.

How do I know such a thing? FBI stats for last year again. There were 8353 murderer by gun last year. Do you know how many were by rifle--including hunting rifles? I do. And if you take some time to do the math, ask yourself if we're not barking up the wrong tree.

As to common sense measures, nearly every state has a requirement for a background check. Most have cooling off periods for handguns (which isn't bad because they are the preferred weapon for murderer). And assault weapons are used least of all.

As to listening to the paranoia of the far right, I don't. I base my opinions on the data and on an understanding of my faith. I parrot others who I have come to admire because of their ability to think deeply about things and who refuse to fall into the right/left categories.

Gary said...

Why does any private citizen need an automatic weapon? I grew up "Far Right". I know what their answer is: One day we will need our guns to protect us from a God-less, socialist US government.

Paranoid hogwash!!

Where in the Bible does God encourage Christians to store up weapons to disobey/fight their government? I don't remember Jesus advising anyone to pack "heat" to resist Ceasar and the Romans.

A private citizen does not need a nuclear bomb. A private citizen does not need bazookas, hand grenades, or shoulder-held rocket launchers. AND a private citizen does NOT need a semi-automatic weapon.

Yes, "nut cases" are still going to get ahold of a gun and try to kill people in schools, malls, restaurants, etc. even if we ban assault rifles. The importannt difference is this: If he can't get a hold of a semiautomatic weapon that spits out multiple bullets in just a few seconds, far fewer people are going to be killed.

It's just plain common sense: Make it difficult for bad people to obtain guns with the capacity to kill scores of people in seconds.

No one wants your hunting rifle. No one wants your Colt pistol. No one wants your shotgun.

Get the high-capacity weapons off our streets and stop listening to the paranoid, anti-government propaganda of the Far Right!

Kevin Haug said...


You are absolutely correct to say that no one "needs" a semi-automatic weapon. You are also correct that Jesus doesn't tell His followers to store up weapons in anticipation of an evil government taking over. (Curiously enough, Jesus never tells Christians to try and influence the laws of a nation either.) But there are a couple of things Jesus tells us to do that I bet even you don't follow--like giving up all of your possessions in order to be His disciple.

As I said earlier, so I say again, there indeed is a difference between a want and a need. Dealing with that difference is a spiritual problem and cannot be dealt with by laws. Our faith tells us that plain as day.

And common sense, again. Gary, tell me, is it common sense to go after weapons that are used in less than four percent of murders (the number is probably even less than two percent). Ninety percent of murders by gun are done using handguns. Common sense says you and others who are seeking to ban automatic weapons are barking up the wrong tree. It might make one feel good at having done something, but it makes less than a dent in the problem.

Gary said...

I have a suggestion, Pastor.

Speak to any police captain in any decent sized city in America (including Texas) and see what he thinks on this issue. If anyone would know the truth about guns and violence it would be our brave police men and women.

Lastly, a response to your other reader who left a comment above. I fully agree with her sentiments on abortion. Since "fetuses" can't scream when they are killed, society doesn't seem to care about them. However, there is one big distinction between the issue of abortion and gun violence:

No one is going to abort YOUR children. But, some nut case could very well riddle your children or grandchildren with bullets from a semi-automatic weapon. And he can shoot them and dozens of other children in just a matter of seconds without needing to stop and reload.

If he had to stop and reload, there might be time for someone to jump him and end the carnage. With a semi-automatic, there is no chance until everyone is dead.

Kevin Haug said...

I understand very well what most police captains would say: they don't like those guns. But it isn't really about what they do or don't like. My guess would be that any traffic cop doesn't like people who drive high powered vehicles as they have a higher probabilty of causing fatal accidents. Doesn't mean they need to be banned.

Second point: I will take the chance that someone will gun my child, my spouse, or even me down with a semi-automatic weapon. Why? Because the odds are astronomically small. My kids and I have a better chance of getting gunned down by a handgun, getting killed by a drunk driver, getting killed by someone wielding a club or a hammer or even dying in an auto accident not involving alcohol. That's just the facts, and based upon those facts, common sense tells me I have little to fear from semi-automatic weapons.

Why the fear, Gary? Why fear semi-automatic weapons when they kill so very few people in our country? My guess is you are less afraid of driving in your car, and if you have kids taking them with you--yet you have a much higher chance of exposing your children to death even when you are behind the wheel. Do you think twice when you head out to go to the store? I submit that if you are more afraid of semi-automatics than you are of driving, then you are not using common sense.

Gary said...

It is amazing how good, Christian people can look at the same issue and draw polar opposite conclusions.

Yes, cars kill. But I'm not advocating banning all cars. As with many issues in life, it is not an all or nothing issue.

I do advocate requiring car manufacturers to build cars safely. I do advocate mandatory seat belt use. I do advocate appropriate speed limits. I do advocate driving tests before being given a driver's licencse. All these restrictions on my right to drive a car are just good, common sense.

Once again, I am not advocating banning all cars because of the fact that so many people are killed in car accidents. We all have to accept risks in life. You could be run-over waling down the sidewalk. I just favor making ALL risks LESS risky if possible.

The same goes for guns. I'm not advocating banning all guns. I'm advocating making gun ownership safer:

-Background checks for all gun purchases, including handguns.
-A three day cooling off period when purchasing any gun.
-No gun sales to felons and the mentally ill. And a total ban on automatic weapons and high capacity clips.

I'm not advocating banning all guns! I'm advocating making gun ownership safer.

It's not all or nothing when it comes to common sense gun regulations.

If we can avoid even one mass shooting..its worth the effort!

Kathy said...

Kevin -- why do you assume Gary has "fear"? Everyone can see that is not true. I think you need to examine why you are reacting so strongly -- why do you like your guns so much? I don't understand. I can get very worked up about Abortion, but that is a different issue.

Gary said...

It is amazing to me the regional differences in thinking between the South and the North/the Coasts.

Maybe we would all be better off separating. Divide the country thus:

Cut off Northern Virginia and give it to the Union, give West Virginia to the South, everything below the Ohio River to the South, southern Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico to the South.

Everywhere else would be in the Union.

Union and South could agree to a mutual defense pact and then separate peaceably.

No gun restrictions, labor unions, minimum wage, etc. for the South. The Union would be free to enact strict gun controls and regulate tobacco as a dangerous drug.

I think we would all be happier.

What do you think?

Gary said...

Just in case you think my last comments were in jest. They were not. I am 100% serious. I truly believe that Southerners and Northerners/the Coasts would be much happier if we seperated.

Kevin Haug said...


I agree that people of conviction can look at an issue and arrive at very different conclusions, particularly given the perspective one is looking from and the goals one wishes to achieve.

For instance, in your posts, you have advocated numerous goals:

avoid school shootings
make gun ownership safer
make the world a better, safer place
make it difficult for bad/mentally unstable people to obtain weapons

You've proposed several things to make such things happen akin to the regulations and hoops one must jump through to drive a car. Fair enough if you will admit that there are more than a few people who ignore those regulations, drive anyway, and cause harm anyway.

The same thing happens with guns. You've listed four items which you believe will limit tragedies:

background checks
three day waiting periods
making it illegal for mentally unstable people to own firearms
a ban on all automatic weapons and clips

Take a moment to do a bit of research about the Newtown, CT shooting, and you will see that all four of those suggestions had already been implemented, and the shooting still happened. (Now, I realize I am being a bit nit-picky. I think you meant to type semi-automatic weapons.) The fact of the matter is, most states already have such laws on the books, even Texas where I live. The only exception is the sale of rifles as there is no three day waiting period; yet, one must still undergo a background check.

Common sense tells us many of these ideas are good, and because of that, they've already been implemented despite the lobbyists who try to have no restrictions.

And, Kathy, why do I sense Gary has fear? Because of the irrationality of going after semi-automatic weapons which cause so few gun deaths. It makes little to no sense to go after something that is used in less than 2% of shootings. Reason would tell us to go after the 98%, but that's not happening. What is driving that irrationality?

And I know very well what is driving my response to this issue and several others: I am a bit frustrated at the continued fearfulness of society and knee jerk responses which will have little to no impact on such issues. It is mind boggling to me that the violent crime and murder rate, including death by guns, has dropped steadily for many years, and yet, people seem to be more paranoid than ever that such things are escalating. It is mind boggling to me that we are living longer and yet seem to be terrified of eating and drinking everything. It is mind boggling to me that there are those in society who refuse to have their kids vaccinated because of some bogus reports that the media threw out there to stir the pot. There have been recurrances of the whooping cough and other preventable diseases because of non-factual reporting by media types (both right and left, Gary. I listen to neither and get my news solely by reading these days.) If we really took the time to discern the facts of our society, we would be pretty pleased that we live in a time of safety and relative peace. But we don't. We tend to keep putting up boogy men to keep us frightened--even though there is little to fear. And honestly, I refuse to let anyone tell me I need to be afraid. The single most repeated command in Scripture is "Fear not."

Kevin Haug said...

Finally, Gary, I do not agree with the separation of the nation for various reasons mainly because, even though separation might make people "happier", surrounding one's self with people who completely agree leads to a myopic view of things. There is no challenge. There is no growth. There is no learning to compromise and work with others who disagree. Working with others who share a different perspective also helps a person fill out his or her blind spots and become aware of things not thought of before. I cannot tell you how many aha! moments I have gotten through interacting with those who differ from me. I personally welcome disagreement and exposure to thought that is different than mine as well as welcome argument towards improving myself and society. Such improvement cannot take place if everyone agrees with everyone else. It is through conflict that we grow.

Kathy said...

Kevin -- You said: "we would be pretty pleased that we live in a time of safety and relative peace." Now, I do not want to pull the age card on you, and I know that, as a pastor, you live in the real world, but where in heaven's name did you get that idea???

You were born the year after Roe v. Wade. Yesterday, I noticed as I watched the evening TV news shows, that the terms "husband and wife" are no longer used. Everyone says "partners." This is not good. The family is collapsing -- or maybe it has already collapsed.

Nancy Lanza was a "Prepper." She was preparing for the collapse of society and a government take-over.

If there is any hope for us, we must return to Biblical Principles -- the true Biblical Principles. In recent years the ELCA has totally twisted these principles. The ELCA is part of the problem. You must see this.

Gary said...

I don't understznd why you support common sense regulations for driving a car but have a problem with common sense regulations for guns.

I really do think that the bottom line IS fear: you, and other far-right conservatives, fear giving the government ANY say regarding gun ownership because you fear they will eventually show up to your homes and take away ALL your guns.

If that were not the case you wouldn't care if semi-automatic weapons were banned because I doubt that you have one.

Your side uses all these false statistics to cover your true fear: the evil, liberal, socialist federal government coming to your door and taking your guns.

There are alot of good Southern people. There are alot of wonderful Southern Christians. But the South has held this country back on almost every social/equality issue in our more than 200 year history:


-Jim Crow voter disenfranchisement

-regulation of Tobacco: the most dangerous drug, one of the most prolific killers in our country.

-gun regulation. Our cities are hemorrhaging from gun violence. Most rural Southerners don't see that violence and destruction of our society. They only see their right to keep their guns and turn a blind eye to the suffering in the cities.

It is as if we are from two different planets. We see so many issues so differently. I mean no ill will toward the people of the South, but I really do think we would all be happier in two seperate countries. I know it will never happen.

We should have seperated right after we won our independence from Britain. It sounds weird, I know, to say such a thing, but I really do believe it. We are very different people. We don't belong together. We never have.

By the way, I was overly generous in dividing the country. We Unionists will keep New Mexico and we'll take South Florida and that tip of West Virginia that separates most of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

God bless the Union. God bless the South, but let's separate. We will be safer and healthier and you will be happier.

Kevin Haug said...

Wow, Gary. Just wow.

Let me say one more thing in response to your post and leave it at that:

I'm not using any false statistics. You can look them up on the FBI's website yourself. I will let you know right now, I do not appreciate being called a liar, and in the spirit of Matthew 18, I am calling you on this one. You have sinned against me, and I ask for your repentance.

Secondly, I never said I was against any sort of regulations to guns. I pointed out, they are/were already there in CT (and in nearly every state that I know of) sans the ban on semi-automatic weapons. They did nothing to stop the shooting. We already have common sense regulations, but those regulations do not stop people from working around them and abusing them anymore than common sense regulations on vehicles do not stop people from speeding, drunk driving, driving without registration, insurance, or even without a liscense. More laws don't curb these problems. They are problems of the heart and mind. Such issues are not addressed with law but the power of the gospel. This is Lutheran theology 101.

Gary said...

I did not intend to insinuate that you were INTENTIONALLY using false statistics, maybe "misleading" would have been a better choice of words.

I'm sure you are a wonderful pastor and a good person. I mean you no disrespect. But your views, and those of other conservatives like you, are directly responnsible for the proliferation of gun violence in this country.

It is no use for us to continue debating this issue further. God bless you, Pastor. I genuinely mean that. However, I will pray that God will open your eyes to the evil your position on this issue perpetuates.

Jeremy said...

Vehicle regulations still permit me to own a car that can do speeds up to and exceeding speeds in the triple digits that have no seating room, no trunk space and get mediocre gas mileage. Furthermore I am allowed to purchase parts for said car that can make it go even faster. Tell me where that kind of car has a practical application on a public roadway and how those speeds are safe or practical.

The reason I do not support gun control has nothing to do with me feeling that I have the right to spray as many bullets as I can freely at will as fast as I can. I oppose it because will not cause people to stop hating and resenting one another. To me, it is an empty gesture that will just cause these kinds of people to turn to other methods to exact their revenge. Look up the Virginia Tech shootings. Two normal handguns, purchased legally and not an assault weapon in sight. It still ranks the highest on the death toll list. Look at what Timothy McVeigh did with a truck full of fertilizer. Taking assault weapons away is going to solve all of this? Forgive me if I have a hard time swallowing that pill.

I feel the real issue is society's ever increasing desire to turn their back on and ignore people that have problems. Instead of loving thy neighbor, let's just take his guns away and turn our backs on him so we can let him suffer without bothering us. I'm sorry but that is not how I was raised to live.

Kevin Haug said...

Greetings Jeremy, thank you for reading and commenting.

Now, a note to my readers since Gary has dropped out of the debate by his own admission: I ask those who may be following the comments to read Gary's last post where he blames me and others like myself and our views for the gun violence and deaths of the people at VA Tech, Aurora, and Newton. I ask you to read his comment and then return to the original post and re-read what I wrote.

Do this and then ask yourself: am I a great fortune teller, or what?

But I have no doubt there will be a myriad of pundits once again trying to assessed it and fix the problem.

Kathy said...

Kevin and Jeremy -- I understand and respect what you are trying to say, but 2000 years ago God Himself came to Earth and said the same thing. Sadly, we still need laws. You are mixing 2 separate issues.

If you want to get heated up over a social issue, try Abortion. Millions of people are killed by abortion -- millions more than by gun violence.