Here we are again.
Confronted with the horror of yet another school shooting.
And as the dust settles on the tragic news of 19 children and two teachers being killed by an 18-year-old gunman in an elementary school in Texas, a question lingers in the air once again.
It is the same question that has lingered after all of the 27 school shootings that have occurred in the USA in 2022 alone, along with every other school shooting that has come before.
How could this happen?
The answer is fairly simple but difficult to swallow for some. Shootings don’t happen without guns. Period. If you don’t want school shootings to happen, limit people’s access to guns.
I can already hear the chorus of objections rising from those who are so frightened about losing their freedom to own a weapon that can mow down a group of children in five-seconds flat. At the front of the cue of gun rights activities are many conservative Christians who somehow think that the incongruousness between their apparent concern for unborn children and their lack of concern for living children will go unnoticed.
It is as if they are happy to strip the right of a woman to end an unborn child’s life. But they are not happy to have their right to own a weapon that could kill a living child impinged upon. They are perfectly comfortable in limiting the rights of others for the so-called benefit of children but not so comfortable having their own rights limited for the benefit of children.
And I know this article won’t make me popular in some circles, but I feel compelled to write it. If Christians are not willing to stand at the front of the queue to lay down their weapons, they should shut up about abortion.
It reeks of hypocrisy.
I was encouraged to see the response of President Biden to this latest tragedy.
It is time to turn pain into action, just like it was time after Columbine, just like it was time after Sandy Hook. How many times will it take before the pain really does turn into action?
We’ve heard the rhetoric before. So, I look on at the USA, along with the rest of the world, hopeful but not optimistic. You see, for me, mass shootings are a very personal thing. Let me tell you why:
An Australian Story
April 28, 1996.
For all Australians, it is a day that will live on in infamy. Brandishing a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle with a 30-shot magazine, a man named Martin Bryant entered the Broad Arrow Cafe at a popular tourist spot in the south of Tasmania. He killed 12 people in 15 seconds. He then moved on to the gift shop next door, where he murdered another eight. In little over half an hour, the death toll would be 35, with 23 wounded, including children. The Port Arthur Massacre became the worst single-person mass shooting in Australia’s history and is still one of the worst recorded worldwide.
Just 12 days after the Port Arthur Massacre, despite widespread criticism from gun-rights advocates, then Prime Minister John Howard instituted the National Firearms Agreement. The agreement included:
- Extensive licensing and registrations procedures
- A 28 day waiting period for a person wishing to purchase a gun
- A complete ban on all fully automatic and semi-automatic weapons except where a buyer could provide a valid reason for owning such a firearm. Oh… and self-defense was not a valid reason.
- Mandatory locked storage for all firearms
- A government gun buy-back program, which resulted in the voluntary surrender of over 700,000 firearms.
The result: in the 23 years since the Port Arthur Massacre, there has never been another mass shooting on or anywhere near the scale of Port Arthur in Australia. The biggest single incident occurred in 2018 and resulted in just seven deaths. Overall, gun-related deaths in Australia plummeted, and it took just one massacre to make it happen.
Australia is not unique in this matter either. It took just six weeks for the United Kingdom to issue sweeping gun reforms after the Dunblane massacre in Scotland. More recently, New Zealand’s parliament voted 119–1 in favor of passing a bill to ban semi-automatic weapons in the wake of the Christchurch Mosque shootings within a matter of weeks, and it took just one massacre to make it happen.
For this reason, whenever Australians — perhaps even the rest of the world too — hear about another mass shooting in the United States, we roll our collective eyes.
Equally baffling to the rest of the world is how gun lobby groups in the USA, led by the National Rifle Association, manipulate the system by making generous, but not unconditional, donations to political parties. I would hazard a guess to say that if government re-election weren’t held to ransom at gun-point by lobby groups, politicians would be much more willing to push for reform.
When will an American politician finally stand up and do the right thing? When will an American version of Jacinda Ardern or a John Howard step up and have the gall to stare down the gun lobby in the United States and say, “Enough is enough.” Did you know that when John Howard was spruiking his gun reforms at rallies in Australia, he would wear a bulletproof vest because of genuine fears of an assassination attempt? Now that is a brave politician!
Once upon a time, the gun lobby was the ruling lobby in Australia too, and nowhere was this more apparent than in Tasmania. Tasmania had some of the loosest gun regulations in Australia, and none of the weapons used by Martin Bryant in the Port Arthur Massacre were illegal at the time. So little regard was given to gun reform in Tasmania that in 1987, the frustrated political leader of a different state declared: “It will take a massacre in Tasmania before we get gun reform in Australia.”
He was right.
I’ll say the same: Maybe it will take a massacre on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. before we get gun reform in the United States of America.
But the brave politician who attempts to institute these reforms is up against more than the gun lobby and the rest of Congress. There is, of course, the second amendment — that old Chestnut. Apparently, when China or North Korea invades the US, everyone will whip out their firearm, and America’s ‘well-regulated,’ though relatively untrained, militia will come to the rescue.
Cue another eye roll.
Try looking into the eyes of a person who has lost someone to a mass shooting and tell them… “Look, the right of an individual to bear arms trumps your children’s right to attend school without being shot at by someone carrying a gun so powerful it can mow down dozens of people in a matter of seconds.”
Commenting on the right of US citizens to bear arms probably won’t win me many friends in the US, but I think I am more than qualified to speak. You see, Tasmania is a small place. As a native Tasmanian, I remember thinking, as the Port Arthur Massacre unfolded on television screens across the nation on that fateful April day in 1996, “I sure hope nobody I know is at Port Arthur today.” Sadly though, I did have relatives caught up in the drama who were among Martin Bryant’s final victims. That’s why it’s personal.
It took just one massacre in Australia. It took just one massacre in Scotland. It took just one massacre in New Zealand.
Just. One. Massacre.
How many more massacres will it take in the United States of America?
This post was previously published on Backyard Church.
You Might Also Like These From The Good Men Project
|You Said ‘Race’, but Are You Actually Talking About Race?||Understanding the Nonbinary: Are You Confusing Gender With Sex?||The Difference Between Compassion for Those With Disabilities & Ableism?||‘Masculinity’ Is Having an Identity Crisis|
Join The Good Men Project as a Premium Member today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: iStock