Guest columnist: Government’s priority should be to protect the people

Dec. 24, 2012 @ 06:56 AM

“In Rama there was a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children …” -- Matthew 2:18

One part of the Christmas story that we seldom feature is the New Testament account of Herod’s slaughter of the children. He hoped his edict for mass murder would kill the baby who was rumored to be a king. Maybe this Christmas we should recall that tragedy, for 20 children in Connecticut will not celebrate this season, and their parents are traumatized in grief.

Indeed, there is shock and horror across America and Advent is stained with blood and tears. Even our president shed a tear as he tried to convey his distress and thought of his own two daughters. The time has come to act, for Congress to pass more effective protection from guns.

I believe it was in a recent New York Times that a saw a headline which read, “Willful Blindness Leads to Complicity.” It was an article about how Wall Street knew criminal practices were occurring but preferred to look the other way and do nothing about it. This judgment applies to Congress. Congress knows our nation is in a state of crisis about the use of firearms but refuses to address the problem. Sadly, neither candidate for president had the courage to address the issue in their recent campaigns.

Quite the contrary! Congress allowed the bill banning the sale of automatic weapons to expire, and recently gave permission for persons visiting our national parks to enter with concealed guns. How can such actions be justified? I am ready to accuse Congress of complicity in the massacre in Connecticut and similar tragedies occurring frequently, like an expanding epidemic across our nation!

A priority responsibility of our government is to protect us, to provide security. Yet we are tolerating a violent tsunami when it is not safe anywhere. Mass murders have happened in malls, on college campuses, in nursing homes, in day care centers, in movie theaters, in places of work, even in places of worship. Let’s label it for what it is: domestic terrorism! Add to my charge of complicity those who persist in making violence the favorite entertainment in films and video games. Why are we surprised when our youth pick up a gun and commit mayhem?

It is estimated that there are over three hundred million guns in our country, almost one for every person. We are all complicit in wringing our hands in the face of multiple tragedies and doing little or nothing about it. When a massacre occurs we talk about “the first responders.” The time is upon us when each one of us needs to be a first responder.

If this most recent tragedy fails to move us to action, there is little hope for our future. The NRA’s answer is to have more guns so every individual can protect him or herself. (What about the children?) This is insane, yet some in Congress are complicit in this point of view, confident we will forget the horror until the next one occurs.

In response to the dead in Connecticut, President Obama has said publicly that something must be done. He is in a perfect position to take the lead. He will not be subject to re-election so he need not tremble or be hostage to the NRA. If not now, when? If not now, Rachel will continue crying for her children and weeping will prevail.


Robert Seymour is the minister emeritus of the Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill