Today, we painfully mourn the deaths of 34 innocent men, women and children, each of whom were victims of mass shootings. Within a seven-day period, our nation witnessed a dark and tragic onslaught of shootings in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton. The shootings took place in public venues for families: a garlic festival, a city district and a Walmart.
One can only imagine the deep void of pain and confusion left behind for the families of each victim. I suspect this kind of violence is the most difficult to bear since the heinous acts were not executed by foreign terrorists or unknown perpetrators. Each shooting was planned and executed by our sick brothers in America. Further, there is no conceivable reason or justification for the shootings. Though, authorities suggest the Walmart shooter posted an anti-immigrant manifesto online about 20 minutes before the shooting. The 2,300 word manifesto praised a plan to separate America into race-based territories, and warned of a “Hispanic invasion.”
These shootings evidence what many would call an evil that causes many to question their very existence.
In 2019 alone, at least 55 innocent lives were taken by mass shootings in America. I found myself last Sunday afternoon asking God why such violence exists in a nation hailed as “The land of the free,” “The home of the brave,” and the “City Upon a Hill.” A nation with more wealth per capita than any other nation on earth. A nation that has fought for world freedoms, probed space, cured infectious diseases and sent men to the moon. I began to realize that we are merely witnessing the surface reflection of our nation’s soul.
As surely as we can see a tree, its majestic trunks, branches and withering leaves, we cannot see the roots that hold the tree in place. The same roots that nourish and make possible the tree’s very existence. We cannot see the seed by which the tree was conceived, or the history that culminated in the tree’s manifestation beneath earth’s surface. No seed is perfect. Every seed has both good and bad DNA, which can affect the health of the tree over time. Sometimes, the DNA of the seed can affect the tree more than external forces.
Just as a tree is conceived in darkness, our nation was planted with good and bad DNA. Our nation rejected England’s colonial oppression and taxation, mounted a historic revolution that caused the deaths of nearly 5,000, but resulted in our nation’s inception in 1776. Within our nation’s conception, we inherited the DNA of our oppressors and continued the tradition of slave ownership for many years. The transatlantic slave trade caused the deaths of an estimated 2.4 million Africans.
This culminated in the Civil War in 1862, a war in which over 620,000 died. It was our nation’s single bloodiest war on record.
Long after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the enactment of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, African Americans and other minorities continued to fight the bitter roots of prejudice and racism in America. The symptoms of that prejudice were evidenced by countless lynchings, hangings, brutality and shootings on a grand scale.
Through the enactment of segregation and Jim Crow laws that disenfranchised minorities, the deep roots of our nation stirred hate within America. In one decade, that hatred claimed the lives President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The last four decades of progress in race-relations did not and could not remove the deep roots of a racial divide that is an inextricable part our nation’s conception 243 years ago. We continue to grapple with that racial divide today as we witness hatred among white supremacists and the Antifa.
As conservatives who deeply believe in values of faith and family, loving our neighbors and protecting the safety of our children, we can no longer sit idly by and silently watch innocent men, women and children die at the hands of mentally ill and sick men carrying assault rifles and machine guns. I believe that thoughts and prayers are valuable and affective, but I also believe that “Faith without works is dead (James 2:14).” Our very existence in these perilous times commands us to act in the best interests of those around us.
I believe the rights protected by the Second Amendment are central and important for liberty. Nevertheless, I believe we must begin the dialogue about background checks and gun control that do not violate that right. I would urge us to stand up for the victims of gun violence and their families. Stand up against the roots of white nationalism. Stand up for truth. Stand up for the very values that we claim to hold dear.
A native of Pacifica, Jonathan Madison worked as professional policy staff for the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Financial Services, from 2011-2013. Jonathan works as an attorney and can be reached via email at email@example.com.