Mass Shootings: Who's Next?

Mass Shootings: Who's Next?

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Contradiction is killing us.

Global warming isn’t real, and yet we’re having once in a life time storms on multiple occasions throughout a year. We’re blaming gun violence on the mentally ill, and yet we’re gutting bills that prevent diagnosed individuals from purchasing firearms.

But then again, are these shooters necessarily mentally ill at all?

Without a doubt, gun violence is real, and it’s happening, no matter who the perpetrator is. Though, and with every new instance, there seems to be a new cause. When the suspect is Caucasian, the cause immediately is identified as mental illness related. However, when the suspect is of any other non-white descent, the act is labeled as terrorism.

So what’s the truth?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, terrorism is the "unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims". Therefore, any event in which individuals are harmed by the actions of any other individual is considered terrorism.

The most recent act of terrorism occurred at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas which left 26 citizens dead. Now, while the shooter, Davin Kelly, did happen to be mentally ill, the action of entering the building with an assault rifle and firing freely is still considered terrorism.

See, the problem is not the people, because no matter what, excuses will be made and these tragedies will keep occurring. This can even be seen in studies listing countries with the highest amount of mass shootings the United States is always number one, and with the way that we’re going along, it doesn’t appear that we’ll ever be losing that top spot.i

Las Vegas, Orlando, Blacksburg, Newtown, Sutherland Springs, Killeen, San Ysidro, Austin, Sandy Hook

The only question we have left to ask is: who’s next?

Cover Image Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/Immigration_Rally_The_Majority_of_Mass_Shootings_are_Committed_by_White_Men_%2831911920834%29.jpg

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The Gun Control Debate Comes Down To The Power Of God

My opinion on two parts to the most, in every sense of the word, "loaded" issue.
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There are a plethora of difficult issues in a Christian's life, and despite what it looks like on social media and mainstream media, gun control is high on that list. It pains me to see such a divide on this issue. Liberals are painted as children who want to give up all their rights, while conservatives are seen as idiots who value guns more than human life. And Christian conservatives are seen as hypocritical Pharisees, not unlike the Nazis.

But we all know, at least I hope we all know, that this isn’t the case for either side. We all love our families, and we all cherish life. We all prefer a world where murder doesn’t exist or at least a world where mass murders don’t exist. We all want a world where our children, siblings, friends, and parents can live safely

So, what gives? If we value the same things, why are we so divided on gun control? The answer, I believe, has more layers and more depth than I could ever hope to understand, let alone write about. But I can share my own thoughts and concerns on the issue in hopes that it is a positive, edifying contribution to the dialogue.

There are two main parts to the gun control debate that most social media posts can be divided into: Gun Control Laws, and the reason for gun control. What I mean by Gun Control Laws tends to either challenge or support certain claims like “more guns= more deaths.” The second part, the reason for gun control, asks why school shootings and general acts of terrorism are happening in an attempt to answer if gun control is even needed. I think the reason why communication on this topic is so difficult is that people are often arguing on these different parts of the same topic. So, I hope my own thoughts, or rambling at this point, can help with the general discussion, even if it’s just a Conservative Christian’s (note: not a conservative that’s also a Christian) opinion on Gun Control.

The first issue, the gun control laws, is that the gun control debate is not about gun control, and it’s not about guns. I’m talking about the debate itself, the “dialogue” surrounding gun control. I think a gun control debate would look into methods and strategies of gun control. It assumes a bipartisan agreement that gun control is actually needed, which we haven’t reached, at least, not on a mass level.

Rather, the debate is about us: the people who are gunned down, the people that witness the deaths of friends and family, the people that hear about the tragedy on the news or social media, the people that want to do something. It is also about the people that seemingly don’t want to do something. It is also about the people who shoot other people, the people who go on shooting sprees in schools and other public places. The issue is about an enormous, democratic nation that is split on almost every topic, like a Giant with feet that does not want to walk in the direction its walking, arms that does not want to hold the things its holding, and a head that plans out things it does not want to plan out.

But the solution isn’t somehow forcing half of the individual body to a restriction or code. The United States isn’t a single body, it’s a group of people divided into 50 states, each with their own restrictions, which are at least just as strict as any overarching restriction. And in each state, there are municipalities. This is good because individual people are different! And oftentimes, people in a certain area tend to think alike, or agree on the same ideas.

It feels like people forget that there are stricter gun laws on the state level than the Federal level. For example, Minnesota has gun restrictions on the mentally challenged. If one feels those restrictions aren’t sufficient, one could work on changing the local, or state laws. In fact, it might be easier to work on the local and state level rather than the federal level.

The second issue, which is the reason for gun control, isn’t about us. It’s about God. The United States might work like some form of democracy, but any leader or government was placed there by God, and even they are subject to the authority of God.

But this doesn’t mean God is okay with the murderous lashes of people. God is very much against murder. He is against any form of action that places a person in the seat of the Judge. By judge, I mean defining actions, or cases, according to one’s own prescription, for example, the judge of who lives and who dies, who steals and who’s robbed, who’s to be loved and who’s to be hated… the judge of who’s judge and who isn’t judge, the judge of who’s God and who isn’t God.

Sadly, there are people who do play Judge, like the Parkland shooter, or the Santa Fe shooter, or even myself. To think that I’ve never judged in one way or another is a lie. I do it every day. But admitting that society is filled with self righteous people doesn’t solve anything, it won’t solve mass shootings, it won’t stop sin. The lamentations of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes comes to mind, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

What I’m trying to say is that whether or not we have strict gun control, loose gun control, or no gun control, we won’t be any better off. The United States in 1918 wasn’t any better then than it is now in 2018. Horrors have been performed now that the people then could never imagine. And people then practiced things that were so horrible, we riot against them a century later.

I think my conclusion, then, would come from Ecclesiastes, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

But I’ll also tack on a line from Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, “...God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We can work hard to make this world a better place by pushing for stricter gun control, by lobbying for or against issues, and by protesting for what we believe in. But the most we can ever do is pray.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

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