As everyone knows by now, 24-year-old James Holmes is accused of killing 12 and injuring 58 in a shooting massacre Friday morning, July 20, in Aurora, Colorado, at a packed theater of moviegoers watching the premiere of the latest Batman movie. This has given rise to collateral discussions across the nation of at least three additional concerns: guns, the media, and God.
The country seems to be poised for another round in the debate of whether gun-ownership creates violence or prevents it.
Within hours of the massacre, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent gun-control advocate, said “But maybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic?’”
“I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day. It’s just got to stop,” he said. “And instead of these two people, President Obama and Gov. Romney, talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place. OK. Tell us how. And this is a problem.”
Bloomberg added: “No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them, concretely, not just in generalities, specifically, ‘What are they going to do about guns?’”
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said he could not understand why there was apparently no-one in the theater with a weapon who could take gunman James Holmes out before he could create more mayhem.
“It does make me wonder, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?” Gohmert asked.
As a gun owner with intentions of eventually securing a concealed weapon permit, I think Gohmert is asking the more pressing question.
Incidentally, support for gun control has fallen in recent years. Gallup says 78 percent wanted stricter gun laws in 1990, falling to 62 percent by 1995. By 2007 it was 51 percent and last year just 44 percent.
As the elections in November draw closer, we can – sadly – expect members of the news media to allow their objectivity to give way to personal bias in their reporting. However I’d be alarmed if we had a more egregious example than ABC reporter Brian Ross trying to tie the Colorado massacre to the Tea Party on “Good Morning America” after discovering the Colorado Tea Party Patriots had a member called James Holmes.
Ross admitted on air that he did not know whether the two men were the same, but still went ahead with his claim that the tragedy in Aurora could be linked to the grassroots group.
ABC later apologized online and Ross tweeted, “Earlier I reported incorrectly that the shooting suspect might be tied to the Tea Party. I apologize for the mistake.” Those two statements would have been seen by just a fraction of the number of people who watched his original report and I’m unaware of any subsequent apologies made over the network.
Colorado Tea Party Patriots does have a member called James Holmes. But he is 52. The alleged shooter in Aurora is 24. The two men are unrelated.
Brian Ross needs to resign, or ABC needs to fire him.
Understandably, whenever tragedy strikes questions of God, his role and his goodness come to the forefront. As a follower of Jesus, here are five personal convictions:
- God infuses every moment and every event with meaning and gives us confidence that He understands what we are going through. God’s knowledge of all events means nothing is insignificant to Him. If God knows when a sparrow falls, He certainly knows when we face tragedy (Matthew 10:29-31). In fact, God assured us that we would face trouble in this world (John 16:33) and that He has experienced our struggles personally (Hebrews 2:14-18; Hebrews 4:15).
- God has sovereign control over all things, but it is important to remember that God is not the source of tragedy. The vast majority of human suffering is caused by sin, all too often the sin of other people. For instance, a mass murder is the fault of the murderer disobeying the moral law of God (Exodus 20:13; Romans 1:18-21).
- While God is perfectly capable of stopping tragedies before they begin, sometimes He chooses not to. While we may not know why, we do know that He is perfect, just, and holy, and so is His will.
- Also, the suffering we experience in this world does three things. It leads us to seek God, it develops our spiritual strength, and it increases our desire for heaven (Romans 8:18-25; James 1:2-3; Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:7).
- Tragic events demonstrate much of their meaning in the way we react to them. C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” This does not mean that God causes tragedy, but that He uses our reaction to tragedy to speak to us.