America's cult of guns

Guns are a religion now. And too many of our fellow citizens -- including...

Posted: Feb 16, 2018 9:58 AM
Updated: Feb 16, 2018 9:58 AM

Guns are a religion now. And too many of our fellow citizens -- including evangelical Christians, of all people -- will continue to heedlessly worship at this altar, despite the dead children, the dead teachers, the dead concertgoers and the innocent bystanders who must sacrifice their lives for others' overriding faith in their weapons.

They will, unless you do something.

They are in something like a cult, and like all cults, difficult to break from, to stop or influence. It's an American thing, religious - yes -- in scope, fundamentalist in its fanaticism and fervor, without precise parallel anywhere else in the world.

As a Christian, I'm appalled by the hypocrisy I see among others of my faith, particularly those who are our leaders in government and show eagerness to participate in this cult. They worship false idols in the form of weapons, and turn their back on the teachings of Jesus, who did not equivocate when it came to violence.

The Sermon on the Mount is unmatched as a spiritual and ethical guide, as when Jesus declared: "You have learned that they were told, 'Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.' But what I tell you is this: Do not set yourself against the man who wrongs you. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn and offer him your left." (Matthew 5:38-40)

It is safe to say that nobody in the cult of guns listens to Jesus.

We're reminded of the evil at the heart of this every month or so, when some demented individual gathers a cache of semiautomatic firearms - or even, as in the case of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting Wednesday, just one powerful assault rifle -- and goes on a rampage.

Parkland will before long drop down the long list of recent school shootings. There is every reason to believe it will be second or third behind some new tragedy, just another name on a long list: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and so forth. Added to these we have the rampages in Las Vegas, Orlando, and countless other places.

None of this will stop unless the cult of guns is curbed.

This won't be easy; the cult has a lot of money behind it. The money pours in from the "devout": small-time contributions to the NRA that amount to hundreds of millions of dollars each year. This money is used, in our skewed version of democracy, to influence politicians, who are only too happy to be bought.

Our Congress is swamped with men and women, our so-called representatives, who do not represent the majority view, which is that guns must be curtailed.

According to the most recent Gallup Poll, about 60% of American are either "very dissatisfied" or "somewhat dissatisfied" with our guns laws and want change. This number had fallen for a few years, it's climbing back up again. More of our neighbors and friends want nothing to do with the cult.

Given this, and in the face of the horrors we see in our news feeds, why is the ability to buy and possess guns so rabidly protected by our leaders and so many of our fellow Americans?

There is, of course, a false answer: We must protect the Second Amendment. Anyone who has actually read this astonishingly brief and enigmatic constitutional amendment knows what baloney will be found on that plate. Here it is; please read it.

I don't care what you think about "well-regulated militias," we don't need anyone to have automatic or semiautomatic weapons in their possession, not unless they are soldiers or police officers.

Rifles for hunting are one thing, handguns and repeating weapons -- such as the AR-15 used in Parkland, Sandy Hook and Las Vegas -- meant to destroy large numbers of people very quickly are another. They are weapons of mass destruction, for sale to any nut with a credit card.

But statistics -- eight deadly school shootings in the first seven weeks of this year -- will not be enough to move anybody in this cult. And it's no matter that we have the perfectly good example of Australia, where for over 20 years we've watched the rapid decline in gun deaths. This is due to new, strict laws put into place after a mass shooting in Tasmania that left 35 people dead. The government bought back or confiscated over a million firearms, and there has been no mass shooting in Australia since.

It works, friends. You can get rid of handguns and semiautomatic weapons, and people will stop dying on the same massive scale. It's simple math.

But cults are not subject to reason. They have their fiery preachers, their arcane lore, their faith in Fox News hosts who peddle phony stories, their "churches" -- gun shows -- and deeply ingrained mythologies. These are all supported strongly by the NRA and the weapons manufacturers.

Hollywood doesn't help, and never has: The American taste for violence is notorious, and we spread this ghastly predisposition around the world.

Donald Trump got elected, in part, because he kowtowed to this cult of guns, pretending to be a lover of weapons, even a member, although this was a veneer. Has he uttered a single word about gun control since the shooting in Parkland? Will he? I think you know the answer, and where his bread is buttered.

What would help? You. Elections. Sensible laws.

But this is going to require mental and spiritual toughness, a genuine resolve to end the killing and persuade those trapped in the cult of guns that it's in everyone's best interest for them to step out of that darkness.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 69374

Reported Deaths: 1989
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5700119
DeSoto371031
Harrison260136
Madison245569
Jackson231444
Rankin230735
Jones193159
Forrest182656
Washington170142
Lee152142
Lauderdale141592
Neshoba128892
Lamar123115
Bolivar113635
Oktibbeha113339
Warren112535
Lowndes109239
Panola106816
Sunflower105625
Scott101120
Lafayette98719
Copiah96228
Leflore94966
Pike94037
Holmes91049
Grenada85123
Pontotoc8429
Yazoo84113
Lincoln83442
Monroe82155
Simpson80631
Leake79526
Coahoma78113
Wayne78021
Tate74330
Marshall7129
Marion68420
Union66216
Adams63225
Winston62916
Covington62214
George5956
Pearl River55940
Newton54511
Tallahatchie54111
Attala52725
Walthall50221
Chickasaw47619
Noxubee46112
Tishomingo4377
Alcorn4355
Calhoun4259
Prentiss42310
Claiborne40914
Smith40613
Hancock40214
Clay40114
Jasper3949
Itawamba38710
Tippah37414
Tunica3587
Clarke33626
Montgomery3295
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31610
Humphreys29712
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25612
Perry2428
Amite2376
Webster23712
Kemper23314
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21513
Stone2115
Sharkey2045
Jefferson1957
Benton1451
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena272
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 100801

Reported Deaths: 1814
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13366246
Mobile10581212
Montgomery6825151
Madison546934
Tuscaloosa426979
Unassigned392566
Baldwin367029
Shelby333437
Marshall319438
Lee270847
Morgan241819
Etowah218034
DeKalb183414
Calhoun181918
Elmore176039
Walker154465
Houston142813
Russell13892
St. Clair136320
Limestone135913
Dallas133624
Franklin129722
Cullman123012
Colbert121517
Lauderdale119020
Autauga116222
Escambia108817
Talladega105414
Jackson10264
Tallapoosa87579
Chambers84738
Dale84329
Clarke82610
Chilton8189
Blount8165
Butler77036
Coffee7656
Covington74021
Pike7137
Marion58226
Barbour5796
Lowndes57124
Marengo56616
Hale48526
Bullock48111
Winston45711
Perry4454
Bibb4445
Washington44412
Wilcox43410
Monroe4236
Pickens4089
Randolph40211
Conecuh39310
Sumter36618
Lawrence3542
Macon33914
Crenshaw3326
Choctaw28912
Cherokee2768
Clay2675
Geneva2652
Henry2643
Greene25211
Lamar2302
Fayette2235
Cleburne1291
Coosa1053
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