On Saturday night, I cantored Mass and had to sing “Be not afraid” at Communion. I’ve sung that song hundreds of times in regular Mass services and at funerals. But this past Saturday, I suddenly thought of all the funerals at which it would be sung this coming week in Uvalde, Texas, and I barely got through it.
It came on as soon as I started to sing. The homily that Deacon Bauerschmidt gave regarding the Uvalde and Buffalo massacres was very moving, and impressed me a great deal – but I had no idea I’d be affected that strongly.
My interpretation was certainly heartfelt but I can’t say I sang it well, because I was choking up and near tears. I’m certain that I looked like I was about to have a breakdown. I haven’t even gone back to watch the video because I was a mess. I hope people weren’t too alarmed.
All I can say is that no one needs an assault weapon, unless you are in law enforcement or the military.
And I know that AR doesn’t stand for “assault rifle.” I know it stands for “Armalite Rifle,” bearing its inventor’s name.
But it’s a rifle, and it’s used to assault. So it’s an assault rifle. (Yes, knives can be used for that, but it’s not their only purpose. An assault weapon is used to kill and only that.)
You can’t use it to hunt – it’s too destructive. If you’re using it for self-protection, it’s awfully cumbersome to have in a nightstand, and if you have kids in the house, you’d better have it under lock and key.
There is no reason someone should be able to buy an assault weapon without
- background checks
- a waiting period
- having no history of domestic violence
- an age limit*
*If you aren’t old enough to buy a beer or rent a car, you aren’t old enough to buy a weapon that can pulverize a person’s body.
When I taught at Howard Community College, we had an active shooter drill. We were supposed to stay in the room where we were, lock the door, turn off the lights and remain quiet till the “all clear” was given.
I was in a practice room with a glass door. Not just a window in a solid door. A totally glass door. If there was a real active shooter, I would be expected to push the upright piano in front of it.
Yeah, that wouldn’t happen.
I knew when it was going to be, and I left that room, went to my boss’ room, told the teacher in there that, if this was real, this was where I was going to be, and sat under the piano in the dark until it was over.
And I quit at the end of that semester.
I also had to go through a training session at the Cathedral, in case anyone would come in and shoot up the church. We were told to hide behind pillars. I volunteered that the choir should cannonball our choir hymnals at the perp, because those things could leave a mark. I was serious.
I recall the teacher saying that the ushers were the first line of defense, and asking the ushers to please stand. Their average age was probably 75. His face just fell.
Instead of making teachers (or ushers, or church musicians, or cashiers in a grocery store) do double/triple/quadruple duty as piano movers, security officers, or pack a gun and exchange fire with a possible whacko, why don’t we remove the reason for this?
BAN MILITARY-STYLE WEAPONS FOR PURCHASE BY ANYONE NOT IN THE MILITARY OR LAW ENFORCEMENT
I’m tired of hearing about people simply going about their business in schools, houses of worship, at concerts, or at the grocery store and winding up dead because someone had a killing machine that they bought legally (and most of these killers did buy them legally).
“But criminals will just get them illegally if they want them.”
Okay, let’s make it harder for them to do that. Let’s make it something that someone will notice and maybe speak up about.
“Why should a law-abiding citizen not be able to get an AR-15 because of a few bad apples?”
I don’t know. Why can’t I get on a plane without having to take my shoes off? Or worry about the size of the moisturizer in my carry-on? Because of a few bad apples.
Why can’t I buy Sudafed over the counter when my nose is stuffy? Because of bad apples who use it to make meth.
Why do I have to use brute force to open a Tylenol bottle? Because of one bad apple who poisoned a batch of bottles over thirty years ago.
“The only thing that’ll stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
There were good guys with guns in Buffalo, at Parkland, in Las Vegas, and in Uvalde. And yet somehow people still died. Because a good guy with a gun pales in comparison to a bad guy with more and bigger guns and body armor.
Even though I think we should be afraid, I wanted to post this video I just found, which was a virtual choir effort during the early days of the pandemic (and to be honest, like my interpretation from Saturday night, it’s not the greatest singing, but it’s heartfelt). It includes the fourth verse, which I’ve never heard before, written by Bob Dufford, S.J. in 2007:
And when the earth has turned beneath you and your voice is seldom heard.
When the flood of gifts that blessed your life has long since ebbed away.
When your mind is thick and hope is thin and dark is all around,
I will stand beside you till the dawn
We have to do more than sing so that the day can come when we don’t have to be afraid.
Contact your legislators and let them know that the time has come to ban the sale of military-style weapons (and their accoutrements) to non-LEO/military citizens.