I spent a good hour of my morning watching C-Span as those in the House spoke on the recent shootings in Tucson. It was fascinating how often Scripture is being cited. Rep. James E Clyburn spoke compellingly, citing both of the pillars of my own ethics from the Old Testament & New: Micah 6:8 and then Luke 10:25-37. I just hope that we do not overlook the fact that Jared Lee Loughner, too, is our neighbor.
That this tragedy has become a bipartison point of contention is truly sad, though not at all surprising. Do I think that Palin should have her feet held to the fire? You betcha. (I simply could not resist that one; it was too easy).
There are many issues which are part of this recent tragedy which are being conflated and one issue which is most contentious but not the most applicable (in my opinion) is getting the most attention. I have studied both sociology and also psychology formally in the past, and currently study theology which touches on both so I will speak to what I know the most briefly, leaving gun control out of it. I also, to be clear about my biases, am rabidly anti-gun. I do not believe that any citizen needs a carry permit. Furthermore, just because a citizen can get a carry permit that in way means they need to.
I make no claims to be a political scientist, but it does seem to me that there have been two recent shooters who were feeling isolated and ineffectual who chose to use guns as a way of expressing themselves when other outlets had failed. While gun control is an issue, it is becoming the main issue when for these men I doubt it truly was, so if we make it the main thing we are really missing an opportunity and leaving ourselves open, frankly, for the same thing to happen again, until we listen to this mode of communication. This is my fear.
While the argument from the libertarians and those who are advocates of gun ownership and heaven forbid, gun utilization, argue that there are laws in place to prevent people such as the Virginia Tech Shooter and Mr. Loughtner from being able to purchase guns; CLEARLY, they argue, there was a breakdown in communication. If the society within which these laws are in place does not allow them to work properly, then the laws are no good. A hypothetical system that works well is simply not going to cut it.
That being said, the virtue ethicist in me cannot leave on such a sour note. I am to blame; you are to blame; we are all to blame. I am certain that I have been a poor neighbor, or at the least have not been as engaged and aware a neighbor as I could have been. While this is not to say that the actions of the two aforementioned shooters were the responsibilities of any individual other than themselves, it is to suggest that a culture of inclusivity and neighborliness would be lovely, would it not? It has to start somewhere.