Guns in America are like cars in America. Woe to anyone who tries to take them away. Of course the truth is that no one is trying to take away guns — regulating gun ownership is similar to how we license cars. Banning the sale of automatic weapons with their high-capacity ammunition clips and expanding background checks on all gun buyers is not so much taking away guns as it is taking away matches while standing next to an open gasoline pump.
The truth is that most folks want a sane society in which people actually like each other. Indeed, this issue of gun control is not about guns at all. I think it’s a deeper spiritual issue. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “People often hate each other because they fear each other, they fear each other because they don’t know each other, they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate, they cannot communicate because they are separated.”
What we discover in story after story of the horrible gun massacres is that the perpetrators are deeply alienated, isolated human beings who have lost a connection, a communion with others. We learn that they are already living in a hell of numbness that has distorted their reality to the point where they can no longer feel.
Yet 72 percent of Americans believe that arming guards in schools will protect us. I wonder if the same percentage of Americans believe that armed guards in malls, in theaters, on every street corner, in every bar, at every neighborhood soccer game, at every place of employment and at the front door of every church will protect us from each other? Indeed, should we arm every citizen so that we can be like those old TV westerns where everyone carried a six-shooter? Would that make us secure: a mutually assured society of individuals in an all-against-all culture? Is that the culmination of wisdom for how folks can learn to get along?
Spiritual wisdom knows a better way. And this wisdom is not merely the repository of religious institutions. It is in every human being. It is that within us that yearns for connection with each other.
On Saturday, Feb. 9 the whole city is invited to an interfaith gathering to end gun violence. It starts at 5:30 p.m.
with a prayer vigil at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave. E., followed at 6 p.m. with a candlelight march to St. James Cathedral, 804 Ninth Ave. Families with children, grandmas and grandpas, gay and straight, conservative and liberal, religious or not: indeed people of good will are encouraged to suit up and show up, to connect, to remind each other that what we really want in this city is to like and trust each other. To remind us that in the end we believe good will outlive evil and that in friendship, peace is truly possible.