This shouldn’t have happened…

In the aftermath of the tragic shooting at a movie theater in Colorado the national dialogue has quickly gravitated toward a political response to what is undoubtedly a moral and ethical issue.

Over the grief of a community struck dumb and numb by such a shocking display of unjustified violence is the rising clamor of two ends of the ideological spectrum, both sides wielding their “tried and true” arguments with such practiced alacrity. One side calls for greater restrictions and the other side ardently defending their right.

I don’t own any heavy weaponry. For me, anything stronger than a .30-06 is superfluous to the needs of the average sportsman.

That said, I would say I hold to a rather traditional perspective of the Second Amendment as one of the basic rights of being an American citizen.

Of course, like any other Constitutional right, I don’t think “keeping and bearing arms” is either transcendent or absolute. After all, I believe in freedom of the press too but I also believe the press should be governed by some basic fundamental principles and conventions.

At the same time, I think many proposed gun-control measures can easily stray too far into infringing upon individual rights and can grant the federal government too much dominion over personal responsibility.

My understanding of how the Constitution and individual states rights are supposed to work in harmony leads me to a view that the strongest deterrent to gun violence is strong local law enforcement that “serves and protects” the people in its care. I believe that if citizens know they will be arrested, prosecuted, and punished for crimes of this nature it will make them for less inclined to go on a shooting spree after a drunken argument.

It’s not a perfect system, to be sure. A close reading of the local crime blotter on any given day will illustrate that better than my words can.

More than this, however, my views on politics are informed by and subject to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I take the Second Commandment far more serious than I take the Second Amendment. I’m more concerned with the Beatitudes than the Bill of Rights, as the former is a question of metaphysical conviction and the latter is merely one of provisional prudence.

But like a lot of you, I found myself aghast at the thought of a man entering into a public place, with no apparent provocation or justification, and inflict such terrible violence on vulnerable men women and children. It is a grievous crime and one that will leave scars for years to come.

It’s an event of great magnitude and riddled with questions that remain even as of this writing. Who was this man? Why did he do it? How can we prevent something like this from happening? What’s going to come from this in the future?

This spiritually lost, ethically confused, and morally perverse young man took it upon himself to take human life in a furious and calculated manner. For this treachery, he will bear the brunt of everything our system of justice can bring crashing upon his head, maybe even go so far as to take the very life he was given.

But it won’t be enough. It won’t heal the scars or dry the tears. It is a panacea, a placebo, an elixir of snake oil conjured out of hope and fear. Such are the limits of man’s justice.

Not unlike those heart-aching days following 9/11, or even of other mass shootings (Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood), we ask these questions in an attempt to understand the evil in our world. To somehow reconcile the murderous injustices we see both at home and abroad, with what we know in our hearts to be just and right.

Anger and confusion are perfectly normal, and I would add spiritually healthy, responses to something so contrary to the law our Lord has emblazoned upon our hearts and consciences.

“This shouldn’t have happened,” we say to ourselves.

And we are right.

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