Sadly, this is the third time this essay has been published. Once before on my blog, then another time at AMERICABlog. Each time it was following another unfortunate incident of gun violence. There have been several other posts as well on this blog regarding gun violence. Three years ago I posted an open letter to Senator Harry Reid in which I took the senator to task for not bringing a bill to the senate floor which would have included a ban on assault rifles. That failure to act was in spite of the fact that a majority of American favor gun control.
I stated in that open letter that "We need a government that works and a congress that can take action. We do not need elected officials held captive by a gun lobby that speaks for the gun-making industry rather than for gun owners (No one believes that the NRA got all those millions of dollars to lobby from membership fees)."
Yet again we must ask why we as a society are so willing to let so many citizens die in mass shootings, and why we continue to offer up our children to our own modern day fires of Moloch.
Gun Violence in America
Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of Ben Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.
2 Chronicles 28:3
And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of Ben Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination
|Illustration from Foster Bible Pictures|
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Moloch was the ancient Phoenician and Canaanite god known in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy for the practice of propitiatory child sacrifice. There are few images more horrifying than that of fearful people offering up their own children to be burned on the altar of a domineering death-making god. Yet in our helplessness in confronting our devotion to guns, we are seeing the fires of Moloch burning in 21st century America.
We have seen this week yet another disturbing incident of promising lives brought to a sudden end by gun violence. Once again there is talk of stronger gun control laws. Will we be once again impotent when it comes to making any real changes? Our failure to act even in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre in which 20 young children were killed, all of them 6 and 7 years old, demonstrated that we would rather sacrifice our beautiful preschoolers than do anything that might be perceived as a desecration of the Bill of Rights. Our words say that we honor American freedom, while our actions say that we live in fear and have so little regard for our children that we will willingly feed them to our modern day fires of Moloch. [To see a map of all the mass shooting since Sandy Hook, go here]
In a country whose politicians love to shout “God Bless America!” at the end of their speeches, and whose people speak of faith in the public square and argue about putting the Ten Commandments on display, it is the ancient and brutal god Moloch who holds sway over so much of our public discourse. Indeed the fires of Moloch continue to consume our children while nothing is done to extinguish those flames.
Why Do We Tolerate Death and Glorify Violence?
According to The Brady Center, “Over 18,000 American children and teens are injured or killed each year due to gun violence. This means nearly 48 youth are shot every day, including 7 fatalities.”
And here are some more statistics from The Brady Center:
America has a problem with gun violence
· One in three people in the U.S. know someone who has been shot.
· On average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room.
· Every day on average, 55 people kill themselves with a firearm, and 46 people are shot or killed in an accident with a gun.
· The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population.
· A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.
Gun Violence Takes a Massive Toll on American Children
· More than one in five U.S. teenagers (ages 14 to 17) report having witnessed a shooting.
· An average of seven children and teens under the age of 20 are killed by guns every day.
· American children die by guns 11 times as often as children in other high-income countries.
· Youth (ages 0 to 19) in the most rural U.S. counties are as likely to die from a gunshot as those living in the most urban counties. Rural children die of more gun suicides and unintentional shooting deaths. Urban children die more often of gun homicides.
· Firearm homicide is the second-leading cause of death (after motor vehicle crashes) for young people ages 1-19 in the U.S.
· In 2007, more pre-school-aged children (85) were killed by guns than police officers were killed in the line of duty.
Gun Violence is a Drain on U.S. Taxpayers
· Medical treatment, criminal justice proceedings, new security precautions, and reductions in quality of life are estimated to cost U.S. citizens $100 billion annually.
· The lifetime medical cost for all gun violence victims in the United States is estimated at $2.3 billion, with almost half the costs borne by taxpayers.
Americans Support Universal Background Checks
· Nine out of 10 Americans agree that we should have universal background checks, including three out of four NRA members.
· Since the Brady Law was initially passed, about 2 million attempts to purchase firearms have been blocked due to a background check. About half of these blocked attempts were by felons.
· Unfortunately, our current background check system only applies to about 60% of gun sales, leaving 40% (online sales, purchases at gun shows, etc.) without a background check.
One question we must answer is why does our society so quickly come to the defense of guns after every deadly incident of gun violence? There are those who call for change, but such calls are always met with a push back from people who cannot tolerate any change in our gun laws. Lawmakers are forever paralyzed by the gun lobbyists and the fear-mongers.
Freedom or Fear?
Why are our citizens and our politicians are unable to put a stop to gun violence? If there were the political will, assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons could be banned tomorrow. The sad fact is, however, that our people seem to be too fearful to consider a peaceful society. We say that we are honoring the Second Amendment to the Constitution – that we hold the Bill of Rights to ensure our freedom – but the truth is, we live in fear. Why else would we be so powerless to stop our current practice of sacrificing children to the fires of gun violence?
|Poster from The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence|
|Picture depicting worship of Moloch from The Jewish Encyclopedia|