Vegas, Guns, God, and Peace

It’s happened again, only worse than the last time.

Last Sunday night, 22,000 people were enjoying the final night of a country music festival on the Vegas strip excited to hear Jason Aldean when they became open targets for a sick, deranged man shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort and casino. These were sons and daughters, husbands and wives, children and grandchildren, good people living their lives. Now many of those lives are over with their families grieving and picking up the broken pieces.

Fifty-nine are dead, over five hundred injured and many are still fighting to stay alive. Words are simply inadequate in trying to describe this horrendous act of evil. Our culture has become desensitized to violence. It no longer takes us by surprise. To say we have a gun problem in this country is like saying Nashville has a traffic problem. We all know it’s true, but will we do anything about it?

The Second Amendment of the Constitution is not a black and white issue. There are nuanced positions that require reason, common sense, and compromise. If we want to cling to what our Founders intended, then let’s pass out muskets. Sensible laws could be passed and provisions made that might prevent these kinds of attacks in the future. And if they don’t, at least we can say we tried. Buck up congress! Muster up the courage to act rather than being completely owned by the gun lobby. You can support the Second Amendment but find a way to make semi-automatic weapons less available. How many innocent people have to die in one place?

Of course, if Sandy Hook didn’t move the needle, then it’s hard to imagine what will. Hopefully Vegas. No other civilized country has this kind of carnage on the streets. The statistics are alarming. An overwhelming majority of American gun owners support sensible restrictions yet we still can’t seem to get them in place. An even bigger concern is the lack of peace and civility in our culture. There is too much hate, too much anger, too much loneliness, too much fear, too much resentment, and too much rage. These are all signs of a nation in a spiritual crisis.

Spiritual emptiness and isolation is a universal disease. How are we going to change this? It starts with listening to one another, loving one another, serving one another, and respecting our differences. Peace begins in the heart and grows from there. You can’t spread peace until you first find it yourself.

After the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Archbishop Charles Chaput offered these words: “God is good, but we human beings are free, and being free we help fashion the nature of our world with the choice we make…We’re free, and therefore responsible for the beauty and the suffering we help make. Why does God allow wickedness? He allows it because we – or others like us – choose it. The only effective antidote to the wickedness around us is to live differently from this moment forward.”

Human beings are not puppets. We have free will and responsibility. We can’t seem to understand why Las Vegas happened. On the surface, it doesn’t make any sense. But all of us can do our part to help bring more peace, love, and hope into this world. And we can all agree, that our world needs much more of that!