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Another Tragic Shooting

I woke this morning, November 8, 2018, to hear the news of another mass shooting, this time in a bar in southern California.  Twelve people are dead along with the shooter himself.  As I watch the news this evening, a motive is not known at this time but the police have had previous encounters with him with probable mental health issues.

What is it going to take to bring an end to these shootings?

While not every mass shooting involves someone with known mental health issues, certainly we need to find ways to improve mental health care in our nation.  (I want to note that in this particular shooting, I am hearing reports that in the past the shooter refused mental health assistance.)

We also need to live the golden rule, “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).  You might say I haven’t shot anyone but are you always kind to others even when they are not kind to you?  In some mass shootings, the shooter was bullied, shunned, or otherwise treated badly.  That doesn’t excuse what they did but would things have been different if they had been treated better?

I have another idea of what we need to do that I believe will lead to less violence.  We need to promote the dignity of all life from its beginning in the womb till natural death.

What does this have to do with mass shootings or other acts of violence?  If we do not value life, why should we expect the shooters to value life?  If we show value for life, maybe the shooters would too and seek other options.

If one chooses abortion, does that mean some life isn’t worth living?  Or does it say a life that isn’t what we want can be eliminated?  Does this relate to what leads mass shooters to decide it is okay to end the lives of their victims?  Could the choices that are made to end life when there is a terminal diagnosis (we used to call this euthanasia.  Next, it was called assisted suicide).  In choosing to end a life when one’s health is not good, are we saying that some life is not good?  It doesn’t seem rational to me but for someone with mental health issues, what does this do to thoughts they have about the value of the lives of their potential victims?

When the shooter survives the attack, there are often calls for the death penalty.  Some believe the death penalty is a deterrent to murder.  In using the death penalty, one is saying there is justification to end the life of the criminal.  Again for a troubled person, especially one with mental health issues, does this lead to them justifying their decision to end the lives of their victims? (i.e. if one life can be taken, why not another?)

I hesitate to say all this because I suspect some people may read what I have and think I am just trying to justify my pro-life position or that I am taking an extreme position.  For a rational person of sound mind, I do not think the jump from abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty to a mass shooting is a justified one.  However, for a troubled individual, how does the lack of respect by many for all life, lead them to feel the same way about the lives of their potential victims?  I believe we need to promote the value of all life to show that nothing justifies mass shootings or even just one killing.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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