This past weekend a mentally ill 22 year old young man attempted to assassinate US Congress woman Gabrielle Gibbons. In the process he killed six others and wounded many more. Efforts to attempt to ‘understand the why’ frankly are fruitless and unproductive. This lone gunman is deranged.
What is ironic is that the people who are killed, often have a louder voice as the result of their martyrdom. Maybe this is so apparent since I am old enough to remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy. To this day, I can recall with precision where I was when Martin Luther King and Robert F Kennedy were both gunned down. Maybe my Christian faith so diffuses my vision, that martyrdom increases the impact of the message. Jesus Christ was killed, and his message is global. A black South African man, Steven Biko, was killed in the late 1970s…his death contributed to the fall of apartheid. You cannot silence critical messages, life independence, freedom, civil rights, etc, by killing a single person. What is disturbing is that assassination has been a ‘common tool’ around the globe and throughout time. From Philip of Macedonia’s death to Gandhi’s death to Martin Luther King’s death, we have not seen any real reduction in the number of attempts.
It is unrealistic to expect that mentally deranged people to understand that by killing or attempting to kill a person that they actually enable the rest of the community, or in some instances, humanity to actually hear the message and voice. But if is helpful for us to know that.
Clearly the human costs of this behaviour is staggering. These ‘victims’ are son, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors. All of them pay a price for this ‘evil’ We, the larger community pay a very high price. We also lose our some of our innocence. These instruments of destruction are also people. That fact is often lost.
As to the tragedy in Tucson, specifically, it is my hope that we learn several lessons. Mentally ill people are mentally ill. We should preclude insane people from obtaining semi automatic weapons. The 2nd amendment protects the right to bear arms, but it is not without common sense prohibition. It is better to insure that the citizens allowed to bear arms—have guns— be sane. If not, we will deny them their second amendment rights after we bury their victims and send them to jail.
Our prayers are with the family suffering at the hands of this most recent assassin. It is important however that we not let him kill our commitment to open, representative government. We cannot let him take away our innocence of home. We need to continue our lives as good citizens of this country and of the globe. We will be aware of how fragile and precious life really is.