It only took a few moments for the finger-pointing to begin. In the immediate aftermath of the elementary school murders in Uvalde, Texas, both the political Right and the political Left began jockeying for position and leverage to use against the other party. The bodies were still on the ground as the politicians struggled to gain the moral high ground. Any voice of reason was shouted down.
It was, and continues to be, an unimaginable tragedy. Except it is not. We can easily imagine this tragedy because we have seen so many of them. In any place, at any time, a crazed or evil person could decimate families and communities by attacking “soft targets” in America. Certainly, terrorists are watching with keen interest to see how police and the nation reacts and responds. And so are other deviants who wish to become infamous by slaughtering the innocent among us.
A similar tragedy could happen anywhere. In shopping centers, grocery stores, restaurants, and churches — in fact, these places have already seen their share of violence and death at the hands of evil, demented people. America is not safe. America is broken, America is swamped in lawlessness.
Whether it is protesters burning down their own cities, looting and murdering, or it is a mob storming the U.S. Capitol building, lawlessness reigns.
And all too often, weak-willed prosecutors decline to prosecute lawbreakers, thus sending the message that crime really does pay and there are no real consequences. If you do the crime, you will not do the time. The so-called “defund the Police Movement” got their way in some places and the results were swift and predictable.
Many on one side of the political spectrum are demanding gun control. Michael Moore has actually suggested that the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution be repealed. The problem with these arguments is that Chicago, with some of the strictest gun laws in the country, is the murder capital of the country. Outlawing guns would work about as well as outlawing drugs.
And, given that there are nearly 400,000,000 firearms in civilian hands, a large number of gun owners will never give them up. And even if they did, the criminals always seem to know how to obtain a gun. Again, think Chicago. Michael Moore will never see the 2nd Amendment repealed, because too many Americans would not stand for it, so there is that.
On the other hand, there may be room for reasonable constraints put into place but that will never happen until the adults in the room, if there are any of those left in the nation’s capital, sit down together in a room without television cameras and listen — actually listen — to the other party.
Some politicians are talking about increased police presence in schools, metal detectors, arming some teachers, erecting fences and barriers, controlling access, and the like, and there may be some merit in all of this.
But, even if every school is turned into a fortress, it does not change the fact that America is a country in trouble. There is a lawlessness in the land and that, in turn, is breeding a seething resentment.
America is, in my opinion, becoming a national Dodge City where the average citizen is taking up arms to feel safe. More and more churches and synagogues have armed people present for their services.
While this debate goes on, the funerals of the murdered children and teachers go on. Uvalde, TX is a small town about three times the size of the city of Senoia, GA, just a few miles from my house. In a large metropolitan area, such an incident would be horrific. In a town the size of Uvalde, it will mark that town forever. There will be a sadness — an ache in soul and spirit — for decades to come.
In my teen years, it was not uncommon to see gun racks, some with rifles, in the cars of the student parking lot of my high school. In the South, at least, a large number of teens had access to weapons. Many boys even carried pocket knives to school, and no one thought a thing about it. There were no incidents and there was no fear of cars with guns in them.
But this is not those days. America is sick. America is broken. America is in serious trouble. And, like a terrible disease that goes untreated, the situation will only get worse.
Unless, of course, reasonable people in leadership have reasonable discussions about how to understand and combat the sickness. In the meantime, I will pray for Uvalde, our leaders, and the nation. I will also pray that the believers do their part.
What part is that? “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.
[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the pandemic, the church is open at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays but is also live streaming at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life) and may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]