Another School Shooting: Why and What Should We Do?

 

Two days before the recent mass murder of students at a Santa Fe high school in Texas, very near my home, a 13-year-old girl was killed when the car her father was driving hydroplaned and collided with a school bus.  The girl's father – who was also seriously injured – may face vehicular homicide charges because his tires were too slick.

Two weeks ago, we endured the third anniversary of the death of my beloved pastor and father-in-law, David Fitzpatrick.  David was killed by an impaired (alcohol and drugs) hit-and-run motorist.  David's killer pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular homicide, among other charges, and is now spending (hopefully) many years in prison.

Last month, just minutes from our home, a man with a history of domestic violence murdered his ex-wife and her sister, shot and wounded a 16-year-old, and then killed himself.  Thirteen-year-old and two-year-old children also in the home were spared serious injury.

On average, there are about 50 homicides a day in the U.S.  Whether through criminal neglect or murderous intent, upon the sudden and tragic death of a loved one – among a myriad of other questions – each day in the U.S., thousands of Americans are left to ask, "Why?"

I recall vividly the gut-wrenching moments on May 4, 2015 when we knew there was a bicyclist down in the area where my father-in-law used to ride – the calls to David's cell phone that would never be answered; the rushed and lonely drive from my job to the crash site, still not knowing for sure whether David was alive; the moment I encountered the Georgia State Patrol officer who confirmed our worst fears; pulling into my mother-in-law's driveway and watching her, my wife, and my wife's sister awash in grief; attempting to comfort our four children; making the phone calls to David's and Margie's siblings, my parents, et al., telling them of the terrible news.  Like so many others who deal with such a loss, all of this sent me to an awful place I had never before been and never want to revisit.

What's more, the investigation into David's death led us to discover that his killer had a decades-long criminal past (including multiple drug-related crimes) that was ignored – due to a lack of proper inquiry – by our local law enforcement when he was on trial for other charges in 2010.  If the judge then had been aware of these past convictions, David's killer almost certainly would have then faced serious jail time instead of mere probation.  We will always wonder if David might still be alive if the district attorney's office had done its job in 2010 and presented the evidence needed to put his killer behind bars.  As is often the case in these tragedies, we sometimes wonder: would this have changed things?  And how do we prevent this from happening again?

Thus, after once again witnessing students slaughtered at the hands of a lone gunman bent on evil, I understand – though I typically strongly disagree with – those who want "action" from their government on "gun control."  I also understand those asking, "Why did this happen to us?"

As unpopular as this is likely to be, I'm going to say it anyway.  The answer to "why" these dreadful things happen is nearly as old as creation itself: sin.  As my late father-in-law would sometimes point out in his sermons, if you are hurting, if you are suffering, it is almost always due to one of two things: your sin or the sin of another.  Just prior to the first murder in the history of humanity, God warned Cain:

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.

The very next verse describes Cain murdering his brother Abel.  Cain – like the rest of us – should have learned from the failure of his father and mother: walk with God and live in peace, or go your own way, do your own thing – i.e., rule your own world – and live in fear and suffering.  Whether we like to admit it or not, operating out of our own selfish desires, each of us is capable of terrible things.

Most of us do not think ourselves capable of murder, but Jesus warned us that anger in our hearts makes us "subject to judgment."  On countless moral matters we have ignored the Word of God and gone our own way.  This is the ultimate problem facing the world, and there's only one solution.

This has always been the case.  From near the beginning of time, human beings have been killing one another, stealing from one another, enslaving one another, sexually abusing one another, and so on. God gave a perfect Law – upon which all other human laws should be based – to reveal to us what is right and what is wrong.  Knowing that none of us is capable of perfectly keeping His Law, and thus were (and are) "guilty" of breaking all of it, God made a Way by which we all might be "saved."

Another unpopular sentiment: In the eyes of God, your sin and my sin make us just as guilty as a mass murderer.  What's more, because of our desire to elevate human "wisdom" and determine truth for ourselves while at the same time ignoring God's wisdom and His eternal truths, we have become blind to what is sin, or "evil."

For example, large swaths of our culture think hunting for sport is morally unacceptable but killing an unborn child is okay.  Additionally, many Americans – especially so-called "Millennials" – believe that the "right" to do whatever one wishes in the sexual realm is more important than freedom of speech or freedom of religion.

In other words, and as most in their right minds well know, many in our culture have stooped to calling what is good evil and what is evil good.  To say marriage is only the union of one man and one woman – in other words, agreeing with God on the matter – will quickly get one labeled a "bigot."  To oppose the radically perverse gender agenda of the modern left – e.g., simply pointing out the biological differences between a male and a female – can draw protests and threats of physical or financial harm.

Since Columbine (1999), using a liberal definition of a "school shooting," there have been 287 deaths as the result of someone wielding a gun at or near a school.  In that same period, millions of children have been slaughtered in the womb.  Countless children and adults alike have suffered – many to the point of death – as the result of divorce, "shacking up," sexual promiscuity, and the like.

To stem the tide of evil, we must encourage a culture – in our personal lives, as well as our homes, businesses, schools, and government – that embraces the eternal truths of our Almighty God.  We will never completely eliminate, or solve the problems of, evil in this world.  We will not make any real progress – something that can be achieved – toward defeating evil in this world unless we recognize truly what is evil and what is to be done about it.

Trevor Grant Thomas: At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor is the author of
The Miracle and Magnificence of America.
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Image: Kate Brady via Flickr.

 

Two days before the recent mass murder of students at a Santa Fe high school in Texas, very near my home, a 13-year-old girl was killed when the car her father was driving hydroplaned and collided with a school bus.  The girl's father – who was also seriously injured – may face vehicular homicide charges because his tires were too slick.

Two weeks ago, we endured the third anniversary of the death of my beloved pastor and father-in-law, David Fitzpatrick.  David was killed by an impaired (alcohol and drugs) hit-and-run motorist.  David's killer pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular homicide, among other charges, and is now spending (hopefully) many years in prison.

Last month, just minutes from our home, a man with a history of domestic violence murdered his ex-wife and her sister, shot and wounded a 16-year-old, and then killed himself.  Thirteen-year-old and two-year-old children also in the home were spared serious injury.

On average, there are about 50 homicides a day in the U.S.  Whether through criminal neglect or murderous intent, upon the sudden and tragic death of a loved one – among a myriad of other questions – each day in the U.S., thousands of Americans are left to ask, "Why?"

I recall vividly the gut-wrenching moments on May 4, 2015 when we knew there was a bicyclist down in the area where my father-in-law used to ride – the calls to David's cell phone that would never be answered; the rushed and lonely drive from my job to the crash site, still not knowing for sure whether David was alive; the moment I encountered the Georgia State Patrol officer who confirmed our worst fears; pulling into my mother-in-law's driveway and watching her, my wife, and my wife's sister awash in grief; attempting to comfort our four children; making the phone calls to David's and Margie's siblings, my parents, et al., telling them of the terrible news.  Like so many others who deal with such a loss, all of this sent me to an awful place I had never before been and never want to revisit.

What's more, the investigation into David's death led us to discover that his killer had a decades-long criminal past (including multiple drug-related crimes) that was ignored – due to a lack of proper inquiry – by our local law enforcement when he was on trial for other charges in 2010.  If the judge then had been aware of these past convictions, David's killer almost certainly would have then faced serious jail time instead of mere probation.  We will always wonder if David might still be alive if the district attorney's office had done its job in 2010 and presented the evidence needed to put his killer behind bars.  As is often the case in these tragedies, we sometimes wonder: would this have changed things?  And how do we prevent this from happening again?

Thus, after once again witnessing students slaughtered at the hands of a lone gunman bent on evil, I understand – though I typically strongly disagree with – those who want "action" from their government on "gun control."  I also understand those asking, "Why did this happen to us?"

As unpopular as this is likely to be, I'm going to say it anyway.  The answer to "why" these dreadful things happen is nearly as old as creation itself: sin.  As my late father-in-law would sometimes point out in his sermons, if you are hurting, if you are suffering, it is almost always due to one of two things: your sin or the sin of another.  Just prior to the first murder in the history of humanity, God warned Cain:

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.

The very next verse describes Cain murdering his brother Abel.  Cain – like the rest of us – should have learned from the failure of his father and mother: walk with God and live in peace, or go your own way, do your own thing – i.e., rule your own world – and live in fear and suffering.  Whether we like to admit it or not, operating out of our own selfish desires, each of us is capable of terrible things.

Most of us do not think ourselves capable of murder, but Jesus warned us that anger in our hearts makes us "subject to judgment."  On countless moral matters we have ignored the Word of God and gone our own way.  This is the ultimate problem facing the world, and there's only one solution.

This has always been the case.  From near the beginning of time, human beings have been killing one another, stealing from one another, enslaving one another, sexually abusing one another, and so on. God gave a perfect Law – upon which all other human laws should be based – to reveal to us what is right and what is wrong.  Knowing that none of us is capable of perfectly keeping His Law, and thus were (and are) "guilty" of breaking all of it, God made a Way by which we all might be "saved."

Another unpopular sentiment: In the eyes of God, your sin and my sin make us just as guilty as a mass murderer.  What's more, because of our desire to elevate human "wisdom" and determine truth for ourselves while at the same time ignoring God's wisdom and His eternal truths, we have become blind to what is sin, or "evil."

For example, large swaths of our culture think hunting for sport is morally unacceptable but killing an unborn child is okay.  Additionally, many Americans – especially so-called "Millennials" – believe that the "right" to do whatever one wishes in the sexual realm is more important than freedom of speech or freedom of religion.

In other words, and as most in their right minds well know, many in our culture have stooped to calling what is good evil and what is evil good.  To say marriage is only the union of one man and one woman – in other words, agreeing with God on the matter – will quickly get one labeled a "bigot."  To oppose the radically perverse gender agenda of the modern left – e.g., simply pointing out the biological differences between a male and a female – can draw protests and threats of physical or financial harm.

Since Columbine (1999), using a liberal definition of a "school shooting," there have been 287 deaths as the result of someone wielding a gun at or near a school.  In that same period, millions of children have been slaughtered in the womb.  Countless children and adults alike have suffered – many to the point of death – as the result of divorce, "shacking up," sexual promiscuity, and the like.

To stem the tide of evil, we must encourage a culture – in our personal lives, as well as our homes, businesses, schools, and government – that embraces the eternal truths of our Almighty God.  We will never completely eliminate, or solve the problems of, evil in this world.  We will not make any real progress – something that can be achieved – toward defeating evil in this world unless we recognize truly what is evil and what is to be done about it.

Trevor Grant Thomas: At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor is the author of
The Miracle and Magnificence of America.
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Image: Kate Brady via Flickr.