What Is Wrong With Us?

There was another school shooting today. 

According to the early reports I read, a middle school boy walked into his school's lunchroom, walked to a specific table, and shot five students, wounding four and killing another before turning the gun on himself. I read that he shot the students because a girl he liked wouldn't go out with him. 

He shot five people and then himself because he couldn't get a date. 

It's not the first time this has happened. In May of this year, a student went on a killing rampage on his college campus because he was single and unhappy about it. He blamed women for rejecting him and he was jealous of sexually active men for living a better life than he was. 

Some of my friends lamented today's shooting with criticism of the gun laws in our country. These criticisms are fair, I'll admit, though I think they're misguided. I think we need to fix gun laws in our country, but the problem here is deeper than guns. The problem is that people are so willing to end human life. That so many people see violence as a viable outlet for their rage, and suicide as a valid solution to their problems. 

Yes, we have relaxed gun laws in most states in this country. In Indiana, I can buy a gun from another person with cash, no receipt, no reporting, and be 100% within the bounds of the law. I have both bought and sold guns this way. Meet in a parking lot, exchange cash for the weapon, and move on. At a dealer, I can be in and out in under 30 minutes, fully legal. The purchase is reported, and a cursory background check takes place, but there are relatively few obstacles. 

I say this as someone who owns guns. I like guns. I enjoy shooting and hunting, and, yes, I do carry a concealed firearm with me from time-to-time. But easy access to guns is not the reason why people are killing other people. Banning guns wouldn't fix the problems that lead to these shootings. They're the means, not the reason. Yes, the power and capacity of a firearm means that the scope of these tragedies are greater, and I'm not downplaying that. I'm all for a more sensible gun laws across the country, but there's a deeper problem plaguing the populace of the United States. 

There seems to be a desperation that's crushing the hearts and minds of the youth of our generation. Organizations like To Write Love On Her Arms exist and thrive to provide hope and encouragement to those buried under the weight of depression (I have contributed to this excellent nonprofit, and I encourage everyone to do the same), offering hope and the message that "no one else can play your part". It seems like a generation has lost hope, and they're willing to throw away their entire future because of something that many would view a small or petty. 

I've gone and broke my rule - I've identified a problem without presenting a solution. It would be easy here to pivot to a call to repentance and ask everyone to turn to Jesus for all their answers. I, for one, do turn to Jesus for answers, but I don't do it well, and I don't do it as consistently as I should. I've long struggled with depression, weak faith (or a lack of faith entirely), and bitterness and resentment towards God. There will be some - maybe many - who will read this blog and criticize me for not taking a hard line against guns, or for admitting that some gun control is necessary. Still more will be disappointed that I didn't make the hard sell to Christianity. But depression and mental health are as rampant in the Church as they are outside of it, so I don't believe we have a corner on solving this problem. I don't know how to solve the problem. 

I'm troubled today. My heart breaks for the families struck by today's tragedy. Also this week, there were shootings in Canada. A friend was locked down on her college campus on Thursday because there was a gunman spotted. Each of these stories breaks my heart, and it gives me pause. What's the answer? How can we, human society, help with this? I don't know. I'll continue to pray for our country, for the people struck by tragedy, for the nameless thousands (or more) who battle depression and mental health issues. I wish there were more I could do. What is wrong with us?