Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
Tonight I write about the mass murder that happened in my city, Virginia Beach. It is now my adopted home, I’ll retire from the Navy next year and stay here. Judy and I kind of live the live that Neil Diamond sand of in his classic I am I Said, which is about a man struggling to find home between two coasts:
But nowadays, I’m lost between two shores
L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home, New York’s home, But it ain’t mine no more…
For us the West Coast was home, we grew up there. We imagined that when I retired from the Navy we would go back to California, but after nearly four decades in the military we have found the closest thing we will have to home in Virginia Beach. Actually, it’s more like what Noel Diamond described, Virginia Beach is fine, but it’s not home, Stockton’s home, but it ain’t mine no more.
When Judy and I were dating we were held up at gunpoint with her parents in Stockton, after I left the active duty Army to go to seminary the elementary school my brother and I attended and Judy had her first job at was the target of one of the first mass school yard attacks. Stockton has long had a problem with violent crimes, Virginia Beach and other areas of Hampton Roads have their fair share of violence but we generally feel safe.
I have also been shot at in combat during my Iraq deployment, and as an unarmed Chaplain had to rely on others to protect me.
Of course because of my PTSD I am hyper vigilant, wherever I go I have a plan if a shooter was to enter a place I am at. I plan in advance what I will do if someone starts shooting.
What happened in Virginia Beach yesterday shocked us, these things don’t happen here, at least they didn’t. The victims were about to start their weekend, they were killed by a coworker, who many had known for years. The victims were a mix of races and genders, much like the neighborhood I live in. One thing about Virginia Beach is that many neighborhoods are mixed race middle class neighborhoods in which many residents are military veterans or retirees. Of course there are other neighborhoods exclusive areas of rich white privilege, and old money long time residents whose roots go back hundreds of years, but there is not the racial tension I have felt in other places I have lived.
All of the people killed were part of this community, I didn’t know any of them but the crime has increased my hyper vigilance, but I digress…
The more important thing is a series of questions, and please note that I am not anti-gun ownership, so long that background checks are done, and civilians do not have access to military grade weapons and accessories that can turn a defensive weapon into a instrument of mass murder, as was the case here. The murderer used a .45 caliber pistol, of itself my preferred caliber of handgun for personal defense. I qualified as an expert on a combat pop up range with the M1911A1 .45 pistol while in the Army, something that I could never do with its successor, the M9 Beretta 9mm pistol, the pistol grip was all wrong and anyone worth his salt knows that the grip makes all the difference.
Likewise, I plan on purchasing .22 caliber bolt action carbines for Judy and I to take to target ranges. As far as home defense I want a fully automatic paint gun rifle should someone break into our house. A massive number of hits from such a weapon on an assailant without protective gear would temporarily cripple them and if they tried to flee would make them stand out to the police, without killing them, as much as I might want.
But I have questions:
Why do civilians have access to military grade automatic weapons whose only use is to kill other human beings?
Why are extended ammunition clips allowed to be sold to civilians? Honestly, what is the need. If someone can’t defend themselves with a 9 or 11 round magazine in a semi-automatic pistol, or even a 10 round magazine for an AR-15 class weapon why should they have access to massive magazines which are only used for offensive purposes?
Why are silencers sold to civilians? These are tools of killers and assassins, not home defense.
Certainly this was not what the founders planned when they wrote the Second Amendment, which was designed to allow citizens to be armed and become part of a state authorized militia in a time when the standing Army was almost non-existent and the distrust of standing armies was rampant. But the late Big Tony Scalia completely overturned the original meaning of the Second Amendment which all previous courts had decided in the understanding of Second Amendment. Scalia simply that the clause regarding a well organized militia had no bearing, and the majority for which he wrote in District Of Columbia v. Heller opened the floodgates to the gun apocalypse we are seeing day after day.
Yesterday’s killing wasn’t directed at any particular religious or racial group, it was the work of a disturbed man who decided to kill coworkers he had known for years, using a weapon and accessories designed to kill large numbers of people using the surprise of silence to ensure he killed as many people as possible.
It is high time that we as Americans stand up against laws that enable mass murderers to do their work, and instead fight to overturn the Scalia interpretation of the Second Amendment and return the nation to a sane interpretation of gun rights, because our current system is insane. It allows people to weapons and accessories that are only suitable for mass murder.
Virginia Beach police killed the murderer after an extended gun battle, in which one was wounded and his life saved by his body armor.
It is time to change the laws that enable people like this killer to conduct their massacres. It is called sensible gun laws and regulation. It is not about banning guns, but interpreting the Second Amendment as the founders intended and banning weapons and accessories which only serve to kill other citizens without regard to any other law or morality.
So, at risk of pissing off a lot of people, I wish you a good nigh, or a sleepless and unsettled one if you support laws that allowed this killer and others to obtain the weapons they needed to commit the mass murders which they are responsible for, and the rest of us sit back as bystanders.
Please remember, the victims were not just numbers or names, but real people, with real families and friends who contributed to their communities. They leave behind husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren and friends. It is tie for all of us to wake up and stop worshipping the cult of the gun.
Note: Article updated to replace the word clip or clips with magazines when a critic questioned my qualifications to discuss weapons, and my military service, even though I used the word magazines later in the paragraph. This is a common tactic among people who want no restrictions on guns. They attack your character and qualification to write such things. Standard NRA talk.