Two are dead and 5 critically injured after a man fired on the UU's of Knoxville yesterday. One of the dead apparently heroically stepped in front of the shooter. Two brave congregants tackled him while he was re-loading his gun. The Presbyterians across the street took in the shocked apparently during their own worship service and has opened their building to the congregation for a de-briefing/vigil this evening.
The perpetrator apparently planned and practiced this attack for reasons not yet made public. How anybody can be so evil as to shoot innocent people in a church is one question of the day. How people can risk their lives for others and offer their love and their building to grieving victims is the questions of goodness.
There's another question that is not being asked, which is, why we are putting up with all this gun violence in our society. As the minister of a Knoxville Baptist church mused in his blog, "The last place you'd expect gun violence is in the peace-loving Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church." There's no escape.
Of all the comments I read in news blogs yesterday, 98% were offering prayer and sympathy, 1% had been deleted as crass and hateful, and one...exactly one, suggested we ought to do something about guns. One minute later someone flashed back, "no law would ever prevent a man like this from getting a gun." In other words, all control is completely hopeless.
I don't think so. It would take time and effort to buy back guns in our society, but if a person had to go underground to get a gun, fewer people would do it...fewer and fewer with passing years. Just as there are far more people who use (legal) alcohol to get high than there are who use illegal drugs, so, as guns got harder and harder to find, maintain, and but annumition for, fewer and fewer people would shoot their fellow human beings.
The TVUUC perpetrator was observed by his neighbors in target practice. If that was an unusual enough and fraught enough activity that someone had alerted the police, this tragedy might have been averted. Or at least, without practice, his aim wouldn't have been so good.
This is the 5th church shooting in the past year or so; there have been more shootings like that in schools. Churches and Schools are the open places of our society. If we must close them down, disallow backpacks and guitar cases, be suspicious of the stranger or the angry...we will all lose far more than if we just start cracking down on guns.
Praying for the People of Knoxville, and for us all....