After 69 mass shootings since the one at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in April 1999, the only thing most Americans are sure of is that there will be 70, 71, 72 and more.
Why they keep happening with increasing frequency is a dilemma without a facile answer, ministers say.
West Texas Cowboy Church Pastor Andy Hill, who served 12 years in the Marine Corps and 12 as an Abilene policeman, said restrictions on gun manufacturing and ownership are not the solution, but restoring the word of God to social relevance and teaching the sanctity of life would help.
“Gun ownership was higher per capita in the 1970s and ’80s than it is now,” Hill said. “The element in society that says it is a gun problem is the same element that for decades has sought to destroy the moral and social foundation on which this nation was built. It’s a heart problem and a sin problem.”
Hill said soldiers and policemen are taught to kill, but they learn “when it is absolutely necessary and when it is not.
“There is a God-given resistance within each human being to the taking of human life,” he said. “But nowadays, kids spend countless hours playing graphic video games where they line up their sights and pull the trigger on human forms. Graphic violence in the movies youth are exposed to also has the effect of desensitizing them to the taking of human life.”
The Rev. Bill Tatum, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, said the No. 1 cause of school shootings is that children are being poorly brought up. “Kids don’t visit with their parents like they used to,” Tatum said.
“They do their own thing. We’ve lost our love for the home front. We should come back to where we used to be and realize we are here for a purpose.”
Tatum said it would also help if mentally disturbed people couldn’t buy guns. “Some men and women have mental problems and don’t deserve guns,” Tatum said.
“I believe we were safer when people couldn’t get a license to carry them around. If you get into a disturbance and you’ve got no weapon, you’re going to try to walk away. But if you have that weapon on you and get into a little dispute, you would just as soon pull it out right then.”
Tatum said political leaders who display mutual contempt set a bad example. “Democrats don’t love Republicans and Republicans don’t love Democrats,” he said.
“In the last year or two, it seems like we’re more divided than ever. We don’t have to hate one another because we disagree.”
Grace Christian Fellowship Pastor Steven Adair doubts if there is a political solution. “We live in a broken world and with that comes fear, hate and anger,” he said.
“All these shootings are rooted in hate, which is a human condition, so to say we can solve this problem would be an overstatement because I don’t think humanity has an answer to the hate problem. It’s not just mass shootings, it’s any of the hot button topics our society is facing.
“As a pastor, I say the solution is Christ. If people seek answers outside of Jesus, I don’t think there are any to be found.”
Adair said politicians are useless “because too often they make decisions that best benefit themselves instead of decisions that benefit the majority of the country.
“As a nation, we should begin looking past the problems of the moment and quit being a reactionary system,” he said. “We should be a system that’s honestly looking forward and casting a vision for the future.”
Adair is a pistol owner who does not generally favor gun control; however, he said a ban of military assault rifles makes sense. “This is an element that needs to be highly considered,” he said.
“Do we value life enough to make some of these tough decisions? Assault weapons don’t add value to our society. Nobody is walking into a school with a hunting rifle.”
The Rev. Johnny Touchstone, pastor of Vine Baptist Church, said the carnage is a sign of the end times. “We live in sin-filled world,” he said.
“Things will get worse and worse. The only thing we can do is await the coming of the Lord and depend on him.”
Touchstone said firearms restrictions would not be effective. “If a man doesn’t have the Lord, he will be prone to do evil,” he said.
“Gun control won’t help because people are always going to break the law. As Christians we shouldn’t be shocked, but we are. We see such horrible deeds and they take our breath away. But it’s the natural order of things as prophesied in the scriptures. All these people wanting world peace are not going to have it until Jesus comes back.”