Drop the Mic
Published November 2, 2023
By Lib Campbell
New House Speaker Mike Johnson, speaking to the press after the horrific shooting in Lewiston, Maine said, “our thoughts and prayers are with the people. I’m gonna leave it there.” Then he walked away from the reporters, leaving much unanswered. Like questions of what in the world are you going to do to stop gun violence in America? Do you have any ideas for addressing this problem?
Robert R. Card, age 40, walked into the bowling alley carrying a loaded assault weapon. He walked as if he were on the streets of Fallujah. He knew what he was doing; he knew how to use the weapon. He trained others on the use of assault weapons. With what we are learning about the killer, it seems there were red flags and indicators that should have alerted police to bringing Mr. Card in at least for questioning.
Congress Republicans go to mental health issues as the cause of mass killings. The Lewiston killer was known to have mental health issues. It was known that he had issued a threat to commit mass murder. There was at least one person who denied him a silencer because of the mental health issue. But others who knew did not stop him.
I remember in the Sandy Hook shooting, the young killer there was known to be suffering mental health problems. Nobody stopped him either.
There are several problems I see in what is happening now. There are people who see the mental pressures, hear the threats, know about gun and ammo purchases, yet find timidity in calling it out, stepping out to stop the killing. Are we afraid of being tattletales, or brought in as witnesses, finding life upended for speaking truth? Isn’t a little blip in our own lives worth the 18 lives lost in Lewiston? We can tick through the death numbers at Sandy Hook, Pulse, Uvalde, Marjory Stone Douglas, Columbine, and all the others. Soon we might not be able to count them all. It’s shocking that every day in America 24 people are killed with guns.
A lot of the deaths are children. Over 1400 children have died because of gun violence so far this year. Gun violence is the number one killer of children in the US. We say we love children, but our inaction in controlling the number of high-powered weapons on the streets of America belies that claim.
It’s time, Mike, not to walk away from the problem. Many of you may be beholding to the NRA and other gun-toting PACs, but you cannot hide from the fact that there are too many guns circulating in our country. Yes, there are mental health problems to address. Yes, there are lapses in communication and judgment in warning authorities of a suspected killer. But the number of guns across America is exponentially higher than any other country on the planet.
Before you begin to type your accusation of my being against the Second Amendment, think about how the hyper-extended authority of that amendment is wreaking havoc, bringing cruel death to so many. I can’t believe our founders could have envisioned how we would have so distorted the idea of a militia to protect us, to becoming a country extremely lax in gun control. The innocents are being mown down like grass. You can’t drop the mic on that one, Mike.
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, expired in 2004. It is estimated that deaths by assault weapons dropped by 20 percent during those years. Our Congress has not been able to pass an Assault Weapons ban since then.
But a ban is not the only thing that works. Already there are laws for background checks and red flag laws. These laws are unevenly practiced among different gun sellers and states. Information sharing seems to be a roadblock.
Gun violence is a problem we cannot walk away from. We lose part of our future in every death. It is folly to think guns are ever a solution to gun violence.
Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader, columnist and host of the blogsite www.avirtualchurch.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org