Mass shootings have become a common occurrence in the United States. As of mid-April there have been over 160 massacres, totaling dozens of innocent people in different states. Politicians have been quick to react, usually with the same message: the need for more “gun control” to counter “gun violence.”
Anxious parents of the victims of the May 2022 Uvalde, Texas, school shooting urged visiting President Biden to “do something.” He said: “I will!” Last June, he signed bipartisan gun reform legislation. Shootings continued.
The March 27 mass killing at a Nashville, Tennessee, Christian school involved several firearms, including assault weapons, which Biden would now ban. The guns were legally purchased. And not all mass shooters have a criminal record. Background checks can’t prevent a mass murder by someone committing a violent crime for the first time.
Gun abhorring politicians also rail against the National Rifle Association—although no mass murderers have been identified as belonging to that organization. The NRA upholds the US constitutional right to bear arms, and its members apparently are law-abiding citizens.
With rapidly rising crime rates across the country more citizens have been purchasing guns for protection, especially homeowners living in less populated areas who may feel more vulnerable than city dwellers. Journalist William McGurn wrote in his Wall Street Journal column in late 2020 (“Confessions of a New Gun Owner”) about his own gun acquisition:
This year a record five million law-abiding Americans, like us, have become new gun owners. Many don’t fit the stereotype: African-Americans account for the largest percentage jump in gun ownership, while women are 40% of first-time buyers. These new buyers join an even larger demographic: the 43% of American households that already have a gun.
Law-abiding persons also buy guns for sporting activities like trapshooting and hunting. In some parts of the country gun ownership is widespread, as in Alaska, which is sparsely populated and has lots of wilderness; people there go moose hunting for recreation and food—habits perhaps not widely understood or appreciated in East or West Coast cities.
As politicians pursue the legislative path and the president adds executive orders, their aim is “gun control.” But is “gun control” the answer to mass shootings? How can guns be controlled? Political leaders also refer to the need for ending “gun violence.” But are guns violent? Guns are inanimate objects and cannot shoot on their own; only the hands of an individual can control a gun and activate its deadly potential. No law will stop an evil-intentioned individual from using a gun to assassinate fellow human beings.
With the rise of mass shootings, more political leaders have concluded that gun-toting murderers are mentally ill and need medical attention. However, they fail to discern the evil intent of mass murderers. Killing episodes undoubtedly have brewed in criminals’ minds long before their fingers pulled any triggers. Is the intentional evil decision to kill others a disease?
The minds of perpetrators are full of evil—evil that grows in the absence of spiritual, moral, and religious values, and whips up hatred for their fellow man. This is godlessness. Mass murderers are godless people who reject the Mosaic mandate “Thou shalt not kill” and Jesus’ commandment to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
With polls showing a growing number of people turning away from religious practice and an increase in those who profess no religion—the so-called “nones”—we might do well to ponder whether the rising number of mass murders isn’t to some degree related to the rapid secularization of our society.
Today’s widespread godlessness perhaps was best noted by Pope Benedict XVI in his posthumous book Che cos’è il Cristianesimo? (“What Is Christianity?”, published earlier this year in Italian, forthcoming in English). In it he states, “. . . a society where God is absent—a society that no longer knows him [and] treats him as if he did not exist—is a society that has lost its criterion [reason for being] . . . . Western society is a society in which God is absent from the public square and therefore no longer has anything to say.”
The numerous mass slayings of human beings we are witnessing are the fruits of godlessness. Preachers of the Word are sorely needed today to make known the existence of God—his laws, his love, and even his forgiveness.