Yesterday, November 5, 2017, the Sunday after All Saints’ Day, an armor-clad Devin Patrick Kelley, wielding an assault rifle, stormed the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 and wounding 20 before fleeing, eventually ending his life with a self-inflicted injury.
Two expressions, now sadly, demonstrably repeatable fill the air. The first, on its face, admirable, in the light of common human good will, eliciting “the thoughts and prayers” for the dead and the grieving. The second, on its face, understandable, in the light of the presumed motives of the shooters when terrorism is ruled out as a cause, attributing mental illness or homicidal derangement.
In the light and shadow of this latest mass shooting, there are three things I am not.
I am not opposed to having my thoughts lifted and my prayers ascend. God forbid! Verily, I think of and pray for the dead and grieving, and…
I am not predisposed to dismiss mental illness as a precipitating factor in a shooter’s furious, death-dealing act of violence, and…
I am not anti-Second Amendment. I am not against private, individual, and socially-responsible gun ownership.
However, I, wanting and willing, beseeching and begging Congress to do something, am in favor of gun control, both the stricter enforcement of laws already on the books and the enactment of firmer guards, for example, eliminating the availability of and access to assault weaponry and more detailed background checks and waiting periods before the completion of the gun-purchase process.
Tonight, on this Monday following the Sunday after All Saints’ Day, in my tortured lifting of my thoughts and the agonizing ascension of my prayers…
I sing a song of the saints of God…
you can shoot them in school or in lanes or at sea,
in church or in trains or in shops or at tea,
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I wish – myself and all still alive – not to be one, too.
 A paraphrase of the 1929 words of Lesbia Scott (1898-1986)