Tag Archives: gun violence

We need compassion, empathy from Oval Office

I’ve given you a wish list of things I hope a President Joe Biden would do were he to take office next January … but I have one more item to add.

We have witnessed a president who is fully incapable of expressing genuine, sincere empathy and sadness over the plight of Americans and Lord knows we have endured plenty of tragedy during Donald Trump’s tenure in office.

The pandemic. Repeated gun violence. The deaths of African-Americans at the hands of rogue cops. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

Where in the name of humanity has the compassion gone from the office of president? Donald Trump is incapable of exhibiting it.

I want the next president – and I do hope it is Joseph R. Biden Jr. – to return empathy to the office. I want the next president to lead a nation that is suffering.

Joe Biden isn’t uniquely qualified to offer such compassion and empathy. I mean, many of us have experienced tragedy in our lives. Donald Trump, for heaven’s sake, lost a brother to alcohol abuse, so he, too, has suffered grievous loss. Trump, though, just isn’t wired to convey that grief into meaningful and authentic mourning on behalf of others.

Biden, though, has gone through hell. His first wife and daughter died in a tragic automobile accident in 1972; his two sons were seriously injured. Young Joe had just been elected to the U.S. Senate and he considered giving it up to care for his sons. He decided to stay in office. He endured loss and powered through it, raising his sons as a single dad … until he met the next love of his life, Jill, who – as Biden has said – “saved our life.”

Then his older son Beau became ill with cancer. He would die and then force the vice president to bury a second child. As has been said many times already, that is a parent’s worst nightmare.

I want a president who is able to convey that loss in a way that translates across the land. The nation is hurting. Illness is sickening and killing too many of us. I want a president who’s been tested by intense grief and has learned the lessons of how to cope, to survive and to seek restoration of his own human spirit.

A president of the United States can use that knowledge to lead a nation out of its collective grief.

Canadian PM acts decisively on guns; no 2nd Amendment to block him

What has just occurred in Canada cannot happen in the United States of America, but I have to tell you that I wish somehow that we could follow the Canadian model on how to stem gun violence.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced an immediate ban on the sale and use of assault-style weapons in the wake of a Nova Scotia shooting that killed 22 victims in April.

That means you can’t own an AR-15, or an M-16 or an AK-47. Period.

As The Associated Press reported: “Canadians need more than thoughts and prayers,” he said, rejecting the reaction of many politicians after mass shootings.

Trudeau cited numerous mass shootings in the country, including the rampage that killed 22 in Nova Scotia April 18 and 19. He announced the ban of over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms, including two guns used by the gunman as well as the AR-15 and other weapons that have been used in a number of mass shootings in the United States.

I am left to say, merely, “Wow!”

The Canadians don’t have a constitution that contains an amendment that guarantees that the “right to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” That gives the prime minister a clear path to take unilateral action.

Spare me the dogma associated with gun-owner rights. I do not want to move to Canada. I am a proud American patriot who believes in the U.S. Constitution, including the Second Amendment that guarantees gun ownership.

However, I remain baffled, bamboozled and blown away (no pun intended) by our inability to legislate any kind of modest gun reform that could prevent the sort of carnage through which we suffer with alarming frequency.

The AP reports: Trudeau said the weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.

“Today we are closing the market for military-grade assault weapons in Canada,” he said.

Owners of these weapons use them for that purpose here, as well, yet our political structure is hamstrung by fealty to the Second Amendment and the inability or unwillingness of politicians to buck the gun lobby.

But here we are with two nations of comparable physical size, but with huge differences in population. They also are governed by vastly different documents and precepts.

We need not be held hostage in this country by gun lobbyists. I continue to believe there exists a legislative solution to gun violence that keeps faith with what the founders wrote when they drafted the Second Amendment to our beloved Constitution.

Governor honors White Settlement hero

I’ll stipulate up front that I am not a fan of allowing guns in church sanctuaries.

With that out of the way, I want to offer a word of gratitude for a gentleman who was providing security at a White Settlement, Texas, church a couple of Sundays ago.

A gunman walked into the sanctuary and opened fire, killing two parishioners at West Freeway Church of Christ. He had six seconds to live.

That’s when Jack Wilson dropped the shooter with a single shot from his pistol. The crisis was over.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today presented Wilson with the Governor’s Medal of Courage. According to CBS/DFW: “This church had its own security team. They were well-trained,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on the day of the shooting. “The heroism today was unparalleled. The team responded quickly … ”

Wilson has said he doesn’t consider himself to be a hero.

Well, actually he is. His response in the moment of terror was quintessentially heroic, as is the humility he has exhibited in the days since the violence erupted at West Freeway Church of Christ.

Here’s a thought: Pray with our eyes open

A blog item I posted about the threat posed by shooters who walk into houses of worship produced an interesting response from a dear friend of mine who happens to be a member of the clergy.

He mentioned a doctor friend of his who took the course necessary to obtain a concealed handgun carry permit. My friend said he doesn’t know if his friend brings his gun to church on Sunday.

But he added: My doctor told me that churches are the most vulnerable places because we all close our eyes to pray.

He was talking, of course, about the White Settlement, Texas, church shooting that left two parishioners dead before a security guard shot the gunman to death six seconds after he opened fire.

There’s a cautionary message in my friend’s response. I think from now on I will pray with my eyes open.

Hearing the unspeakable … in church

(Andrew Sentipal/Dreamstime/TNS)

I could have lived an entire lifetime without hearing the words that opened our Sunday morning worship service in church today.

A wonderful gentleman who we have befriended at our Collin County church stood before us and implored those in our congregation who have a state of Texas-approved concealed handgun permit to bring their weapons with them to worship. 

To be brutally honest, the message from our friend hit me like a punch in the gut.

We are reeling in North Texas by the events of a week ago, when a gunman walked into the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, near Fort Worth, and opened fire. He killed two parishioners before a volunteer security guard at the church fired a single shot from his pistol and killed the gunman.

The guard is being hailed as a hero. Indeed, he did his job perfectly. It took all of six seconds to eliminate the threat by the shooter.

This is what we have come to in this country of ours. Men and women of faith are now fearing for their safety in houses of worship. In the name of God Almighty, what in the world is happening to us? Moreover, I am quite certain other church congregations all across the country heard something similar to what we heard this morning as we prepared for prayer.

Our friend acknowledged that he packs a pistol hidden away; he is licensed by the state. He said he attended a seminar sponsored by our police department that spoke to the danger posed by lunatics who venture into houses of worship to perform their evil acts.

He gave us a brief primer on what to do in the event gun violence erupts in our church. Our friend told us what he would do while standing guard at the door, as he does each Sunday.

I know I am stating the obvious, but we are living in dangerous times. I just never imagined hearing what came to us today. It illustrates the dire peril we all face … even as we go to church to pray.

God help us.

FW police chief to officers: Wear your gear for Sunday worship

Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus has offered an interesting and, frankly, creative idea for the men and women who serve the public in that community.

In light of the West Freeway Church of Christ shooting in White Settlement a few days ago in which a gunman shot two parishioners to death before being killed by a security guard, Chief Kraus has asked his officers to wear their uniforms during Sunday worship services.

That is an excellent idea that police departments all across the nation ought to ponder enacting.

Kraus’s idea is simple and straightforward. Wear the uniform, with all the gear associated with it — yes, firearms, Taser, handcuffs and club — while praying to God. It might deter some future lunatic from doing what the White Settlement shooter did.

Kraus’ message went out on Twitter. It says in part: This simple act will help reassure congregants, as well as serve as a deterrent for anyone intending harm. Ideally, officers will first inform their worship leaders and obtain their agreement.

My strong hunch — given the life-threatening danger presented by such lunacy — is that there isn’t a worship leader anywhere who would resist.

Guns have their place; still not sure it’s in church

There once was a time when I opposed concealed handgun carry legislation in Texas. My fear at the time was that there might be shootouts at traffic intersections between motorists who would turn fender-benders into something quite different.

Those fears have not materialized. I have recognized the absence of such roadside mayhem. I also have acknowledged my acceptance of concealed carry permits in Texas, if not an outright endorsement of them.

Does that carry over to allowing firearms in houses of worship? Yes, we had a shootout in a church in White Settlement today. The gunman killed a parishioner and seriously wounded another one before churchgoers returned fire and killed the bad guy.

One relatively successful incident involving firearms in churches does not, in my mind, make for a successful policy. I still fear the consequence of a pistol-packing worshiper opening fire in response to a gunman and missing the target badly, resulting in collateral casualties.

Plus, there just is something bizarre and unholy about allowing worshipers to bring loaded firearms with them while they take communion and say their prayers to God.

The day might come when I’ll accept the notion of guns in the church pew. Just not yet.

In the meantime, I’ll pray that the White Settlement churchgoer recovers from the wound inflicted. I also will express my gratitude from some distance that the parishioners who took out the gunman knew what to do when the gunfire erupted.

Shooting incident turns out OK, however …

Does a single shooting involving a gunman who was shot dead by those with handgun permits make me believe that it’s OK to allow guns into houses of worship?

No it doesn’t. However, it does give me pause to offer a word of gratitude that church congregants had the presence of mind to end a spasm of gun violence quickly before it could get much worse.

A shooter opened fire this morning in a church at White Settlement, Texas, a Fort Worth suburb. He shot two people in the church, one of whom died; the other suffers from life-threatening injuries.

Then some worshipers who happened to be carrying weapons opened fire on the gunman, killing him on the spot.

Texas legislators recently approved a law that allows concealed handguns in houses of worship. Only those who are licensed to carry them will be allowed to pack the weapons while worshiping.

I am not yet persuaded that this is a good idea. However, I certainly am grateful that the bystanders who were in the church sanctuary had the skill to end the nightmare quickly. Such relatively good fortune — and I use that term with extreme caution — isn’t necessarily a guarantee that future incidents will produce similar results.

White City Police Chief J.P. Bevering called the congregants who killed the gunman “heroic.” Yes, they most surely are. The rest of the congregation at West Freeway Church of Christ owe them an eternal debt of thanks.

Get ready for the demagoguery

It didn’t take Donald Trump long to learn a skill we see too often along the campaign trail: the “art” of demagoguery.

He entered political life in the summer of 2015 as a candidate for president of the United States and then told the whole world how Democrats were going to “take your guns away,” how they intend to “get rid of the Second Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution, how they “hate America” and how they are soft on crime, favor “open borders” and want to tax all Americans into the poor house.

The really bad news is that enough Americans living in key Electoral College stronghold states bought into Trump’s demagoguery to push him into the White House.

Let’s all look for much more of the same as this president seeks to win re-election in 2020. The gun argument is most maddening of all.

It’s fascinating to me to note that even with three Democratic presidents serving in the White House dating back to 1977 that there has been no taking away of people’s rights to “keep and bear arms” under the Second Amendment. President Carter didn’t take the guns away; nor did President Clinton; same for President Obama.

Why is that? Well, let’s see, it might have something to do with the check on executive power written into the U.S. Constitution, a document with which the current president has no familiarity. A president cannot change laws without congressional authority. He cannot amend the Constitution without Congress on board, and with three-fourths of the state legislatures on board as well.

And yet Donald Trump is going to campaign for re-election reciting an idiotic, demagogic mantra about how Democratic presidential candidates will seek to take away our rights as citizens.

Memo to The Donald: They can’t do it!

That won’t stop the demagoguery from flowing forth from Trump’s mouth as he tries to frighten Americans into believing the lies built into his campaign rhetoric.

I just want to offer a word of caution: Beware the demagogue who doesn’t offer a shred of understanding of what he is telling you.

First responders prove their heroism … again

A shooter opened fire today at a U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

He killed three people, injured about a dozen others. Then an Escambia County sheriff’s deputy shot the gunman to death.

I want to spend a brief moment saluting the first responders who saved a lot of lives today when the shooting erupted. This was the second such incident at a Navy base; the other one occurred at Pearl Harbor/Hickam Joint Base in Honolulu, where two individuals died before the shooter killed himself.

The latest lunatic was a Saudi Air Force student on station at NAS Pensacola. I do hope the FBI, the Navy and local authorities can obtain all the information they need from the Saudi Arabia government about this moron. Let’s remember that we’re dealing with a government that sanctioned the murder of a Washington Post columnist in Istanbul. This incident requires a full Saudi effort to get to the bottom of it.

As for the first responders, they hurried to the source of commotion. That the sheriff’s deputy was able to — in that euphemistic term — “neutralize” the shooter so quickly speaks to the professionalism that marks so many of our first responders.

The authorities have identified the shooter. You won’t see his name on this blog. I choose to remain silent on the identities of the fools who commit these heinous acts.

I want to speak instead of the heroes who answered the call when peril erupted once again. I also want to express once again how my heart is broken at the news of this violent spasm.