We Clearly Have a Problem - Word&Way

We Clearly Have a Problem

Each weekday as I drop my son off for school, my last words to him as he grabs his backpack and hurries out of the car are “I love you!” I hope those words can carry him through his day. There are some days I want to also grab him, hug him and say those words over and over. Feb. 15 was one of those days.

Brian KaylorBrian KaylorOn Valentine’s Day, a gunman killed 17 teenagers and teachers at a high school in Parkland, Fla. So, the next day I struggled with dropping off my son for another day of kindergarten. My concern should be about whether he’ll remember to stop chatting when his teacher is talking, or not get frustrated as he tries to sound out new words.

I wanted to lock the car door and not let him go. Maybe I could call him in sick for the day, for the week, for the month. Or, perhaps I should walk him into class, letting his little hand grip mine for a few more minutes. For the first three months of the year, he insisted I walk him to his classroom. Now, he’s brave and happily jumps out in the drop-off lane. I want to go back to when he needed me a little more.

It shouldn’t be this way. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The shooting on Feb. 14 was the 17th shooting at a U.S. school during 2018, with at least 22 people killed and at least another 38 injured. Since a gunman killed 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December of 2012, there have been at least 239 more school shootings with at least 138 people killed and another 400 injured. Yet, since the shooting at Sandy Hook, our politicians actually made it easier for people to obtain weapons designed for mass killing.

We clearly have a problem.

Americans account for just 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but claim 48 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. We also account for 31 percent of mass shootings globally and have four times as many mass shootings as the next worst country (the Philippines). We own 113 guns for every 100 people, far ahead of the rate in any other nation. The next two countries have rates of 76 (Serbia) and 55 (Yemen, currently in a bloody civil war). Among high-income nations, 91 percent of children aged 15 and younger killed by bullets lived in the U.S.

It shouldn’t be this way. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Politicians — especially those receiving lots of money from gun lobbyists — will claim there are other issues we should focus on. Some people even suggest the school shootings occur because “we took God out of schools.” Yet, what about the mass shooting in November at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a gunman killed 26 people and injured another 20 as they worshiped in the sanctuary? To suggest our faithful brothers and sisters had “kicked God out” of their church would be a heinous slander. Americans pray more and attend church more than people in other wealthy nations, but we also kill each other more.

We don’t have more mentally-ill people than other countries. We don’t have more video gamers than other countries. We don’t have more evil people than other countries. We don’t have more godless people than other countries.

We have more guns.

We especially have more war weapons not designed for hunting or personal protection. The AR-15 semiautomatic rifle was designed for mass killing — and it works, as we’ve seen at a high school in Florida, a Baptist church in Texas, a nightclub in Orlando, a music concert in Las Vegas and many other mass killings. We should do more to assist with mental health and other related issues. But we must also be honest about the real cause of our gun violence. The Second Amendment appears more valued than the second greatest commandment (love your neighbor as yourself).

It shouldn’t be this way. It doesn’t have to be this way.

We cannot pass by on the other side of the road any longer. There are popular life-saving gun measures we can push our politicians to support, like universal background checks and banning assault weapons and bump stocks. This isn’t about taking away all the guns. But at some point, we must put lives ahead of profits. We must stop sacrificing our children at the altar of a semiautomatic idol.

I pray each day that I’ll get to hear about a good day of school as I pick up my son. But faith — and prayer — without works is dead. Looking at our country, we clearly have a lot of work to do.

Brian Kaylor is editor & president of Word&Way.