Shooting in Illinois University – Why again?

Why does this always seem to happen in the United States?  A gunman entered the campus at Cole Hall, a place where students tend to gather, opened fire, killed 6, injured many more, before turning the gun on himself.  Read more here (BBC) and here (CNN).

It doesn’t take much of a search to find other examples of similar events happening. Virginia, Pennsylvania Amish, Nebraska Shopping Mall, Columbine, Colorado Church, and there are many others.

Why does it seem to happen in the US? I don’t know the answer – I’m sure there are no easy answers, – comments welcome.

This problem is of course not confined to the US. In 1996 a lone gunman walked into a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, and murdered 16 children and their teacher, before killing himself. However, what followed seemed to be dramatically different. There was a “gun amnesty” – anyone who owned an illegal firearm could drop it into any police station anonymously without the possibility of charges. This had the effect of taking guns off the street. There was an immediate public outcry for tighter gun controls, which were introduced fairly quickly afterwards. Guns became harder to buy. I don’t think it has happened since (or at least, not as frequently as in the US)

I know it says in the constitution that everyone has the right to bear arms. This was introduced long ago for good reason. However society is no longer the same as it was in 1776. Is this a right that we need to give up in order to reduce the number of gun deaths? Surely there must be a way of protecting that right so that honest citizens can still hunt safely AND our children are protected in their schools and colleges. How about a better national register, or a law which bans guns from all residential areas (including in our homes), but at the same time allows gun clubs to exist for the purposes of hunting. These are only ideas, I’m no politician – but it seems like the NRA is too loud and powerful for any of this to change. Are they happy with the frequency of such shootings?

But what is driving people to kill and take their own life in the first place. Is life really that empty? Surely in a materialist consumer society where education is available where there is an abundance of life-enhancing technologies there would be no need for such action. Or is it ultimately empty at its core. Is genuine human relationship lacking? This emptiness seems to be resulting in a greater threat to US life than terrorism.

Society needs to rediscover the purpose of human life –  only this, and not the abundance of things, can lead to ultimate fulfillment. Who are we? What are we about? Why do we exist? How do we relate to each other? Have we been consuming (buying) out identities and purpose instead of discovering them? Weren’t we made to be creative, instead of buy creatively? Weren’t we made for long term committed, deep, ‘take the rough with the smooth’, relationships (which offer stability to soceity) rather than serial monogamy with no depth. How on earth can we understand each other and be understood if we don’t take the time to do it? Real depth in relationship cannot be bought or found instantly, but surely it is worth it to create a society without fear. In a society without fear, there is no need to kill or be killed.

“There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18)

Just opening the debate.


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