This is just something to bear in mind as Mike Huckabee and others prattle on about how science education, participation trophies, and lack of mandatory prayer in schools have contributed to the environment of “Godlessness” and moral decline that has led to school shootings. Look at this list and try to find that magic era of divine protection that fit their nostalgia. Was it before 1963, when Charles Whitman killed 18 from an observation deck at the University of Texas-Austin? Surely it must have been after 1927, when school treasurer Andrew Kehoe detonated two bombs in the Bath Consolidated School in Michigan then detonated a secondary device with his rifle to kill himself as well as additional fleeing bystanders to total 45 dead (including 38 Elementary School-age children)? It couldn’t have been the 70’s, the latter half of which had the highest incidents of gun violence per capita in this nation’s history, other than the late 80’s to the early 90’s, before the nation’s overall violent crime rate reduced to it’s current level, which as of 2010 is as low as it was in the 60’s.
We always have had and will always have a number of sick, and I daresay “evil” people in our society. What is remarkable about our current situation, when you adjust for the increased population, are the ease and speed with which these individuals can enter a crowded area and murder many people. Andrew Kehoe’s plan took months, as he secretly planted explosives throughout the school. Charles Whitman was a trained United States Marine sharpshooter with a genius-level IQ of 172 who was able to use (among multiple other firearms) one of those fabled hunting rifles Huckabee can’t recall ever having harmed anyone to launch a two-hour campaign in which he exchanged fire with and killed both police and armed civilians before he could be brought down. While the Connecticut shooter also had a number of pistols on him, it appears that all he used and needed was his mother’s legally purchased Bushmaster .223 rifle to kill two classrooms full of people in minutes. He didn’t have special training or an especially inventive plan. What he had was a spectacularly efficient tool for killing a crowd of human beings.
The stabbing incident in China that took place on the same day as the Sandy Hook shooting has, oddly, been cited in argument by those who oppose any form of gun control. Their argument is to affirm that people may be killed by multiple methods, and that assault weapons are therefore somehow morally neutral, as “no one is asking for knife control.” How they manage to ignore the fact that the Chinese incident resulted in 22 injuries, as opposed to 26 deaths is beyond me. Surely if Adam Lanza had been armed with only a knife, many of the children in even the first classroom would have managed to escape. It’s hard to imagine that many more would not have survived had he only his pistols to use.
The problem with people like Huckabee is not simply that they hold religious beliefs or values. The problem is that they intentionally confuse the issues by exploiting the shared feelings, nostalgia, and sense of persecution (despite being the clear religious majority in this country) shared by other Christians to insist that we don’t need more laws because we just need more Jesus. They remove the responsibility from us as adults in society to take data and information and make practical decisions directly relevant to the problems we face and lay them at the altar of the culture war for the sake of their own folksy piety.