Anger and guns are deadly together
June 21, 2023
Once again, I find myself in the infuriating position of responding to the news of yet another horrific mass shooting in the United States. Despite the common defensive refrain offered by gun advocates that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” the simple truth remains that people with guns kill people. And people with guns are killing more people every day and for seemingly trivial reasons. This spring alone we have witnessed several of these horrific shootings. Tragically, this list could go on and on.
While much of the American population has grown numb to the reality and persistence of gun violence in this country, for those who do pause to reflect on the absurd culture of death that has grown out of Second Amendment advocacy and the gun lobbies, troubling questions quickly surface. Why are so many people shooting other people for admittedly innocuous mistakes, misunderstandings or nothing at all? Indeed, fear is a significant factor at play in the rise in this kind of violence. But there is another emotion at play in many of these shootings: anger.
Whether motivated by fear or anger, the common denominator, and what makes them lethal, is the presence of firearms. Obviously, gun violence and the cult of firearms in this country is a profoundly moral issue. But the Christian tradition has something to say here beyond the otherwise plain “Thou shall not kill” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus makes it clear in the gospels that fear and anger are serious dangers that persons must be alert to and overcome. At every turn he preaches against violence and warns about the dangers of fear and anger.
While I still believe strongly that we need to do something to address the systemic addiction to guns in this country, I am enough of a realist to know that the financial and political forces are set up against doing anything meaningful in the short term. After all, if this country could not be moved to meaningful action after repeated slaughter of children at the hands of gun owners, then I don’t know what could compel America. However, in the meantime, I think we also have a lot to do in terms of addressing the crisis of fear and anger in this country.
Father Magnano is the parish priest for the Skagit Valley Catholic Churches.