I will start by saying that I have fond memories of the smell of Hoppe's oil and melting lead. I loved sending the weight down the long barrel of my father's or grandfather's or uncle's or brother's rifle when they came back from hunting-- sending the weight down and tugging the wad of cotton rag through the barrel to clean it. I have popped out primers, watched liquid metal be poured into molds to become bullets, and helped crimp shut the top of shotgun shells. I have, in fact, drawn diagrams of shotgun shells and explained to others the science behind why they work and watched a deer head be prepared at the hand of a master taxidermist.
I have also driven a car that had its back end loaded down with many hundreds of rounds of live ammunition, multiple firearms, a collection of bows, a quiver of arrows, Ball canning jars of arrow tips, and a bag of knives. More on this in a bit.
And, I am sickened, absolutely sickened, when I read about or I see on the news or I hear about yet another mass shooting.
I am sickened because there are ways to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again and lawmakers consistently, obstinately, blindly, refuse to enact the necessary legislation in the all holy name of the Constitution.
I am sickened because we are now living in an age when planning and carrying out mass shootings seems like a right reaction to perceived injustice.
I am sickened because every time I see police in all of their riot gear, padded out, ready to "take out" or "shut down" or "neutralize" I hear the words "No, we can't help you because we are not in the habit of taking the private property of citizens."
That trunk full of weaponry and live rounds of ammunition? That was in the possession of a man who was actually barred by the state from having it. And yet, he did. And I was trying to get rid of it responsibly. So, I called the police. And they were no help. None. Even with the paperwork from that same state that said he was not to have it.
These are the same police who I called to ask about whether they would come to the house if I found anything else when I was clearing out belongings. And they said no.
Sadly, I can't even cry out "UNBELIEVABLE." Because it isn't at all unbelievable.
And yet we wonder. We consistently wonder and act surprised. Or worse, accept these shootings as a part of our reality, as part of the price we pay for the right to own a gun.
What a sick, convoluted, interpretation of what a bunch of musket-bearers laid down in the Constitution.
And same time, people are actually getting upset over the recent Daily News headline that says "God isn't Fixing This."
I actually applaud the paper. And I think they are right.
I believe God cares beyond measure about humanity's well-being. I believe God is indignant and aches terribly to see what is happening. I KNOW I was praying mightily while driving that car...praying no one hit me...and I KNOW I have prayed over and again to do and to say what God would have me do and say in difficult circumstances...including when finding out that the police had no interest in helping me do the right, safe, thing. I believe God calls me to Love. Calls me to be compassionate and just and the fullness of who God created me to be. God calls me to heal, to bind up, to visit, to care, to do my part. God fascinates and astounds me and fills me with wonder at the generous experiences I have had with God's tenderness and fidelity. "Nothing can separate you from my love" is a foundation stone for me and a call to go forth into the world and do what I can to make it better for as many people as possible.
And while I have given my life to this Love as a Roman Catholic woman religious, God will not stop the wrong guns from being in the hands of the wrong people. God alone will not change our culture, our indifference, or the fact that some people do terrible deeds for reasons we may never understand and to which we respond with dropped jaws and open carry laws and petrified children.
God inspires people, strengthens people. Us. You, me, the lawmakers, the person in the checkout line buying another box of hollow points and another gun to add to their personal arsenal because it's allowed.
Are we called to something better, something other? We must make that choice. We must be the ones to fix this. By the laws we pass, by the choices we make, by our attitudes, our decisions, by what we say, how we act, and what we call our neighbor to as well.
So yes, pray. Pray harder than ever.... I do believe Love will ultimately triumph over evil.
At the same time, use the intellect, the reason, the sense, the capacities we have been given as human beings, to change the laws and systems for good.
Or, don't gape the next time another mass shooting happens. It's on us. Not God.