A Christian singer is gunned down while signing autographs at the end of the concert by a gunman who did not know her and came there specifically to kill. Before the weekend is past another gunman, also driving miles to arrive at the end of the night, enters an Orlando club catering to gay men and opens fire with an assault rifle, killing dozens of patrons. The shock and sadness of such needless, senseless, and depraved violence is deeply disturbing. And it should be.
We should pray
Our first response, is compassion and prayers for the families of victims and for victims facing months of recovery from their wounds.
O God, the brokenness of our world has evidenced itself again in these terrible acts. We pray for those who are grieving that you would comfort their hearts. We pray for those who are recovering from wounds that you would give them strength and healing. We pray that the Spirit of God would move in all of us in order that good may come out of evil. In the name of Jesus who also suffered unjust death, AMEN.
We should decrease availability of weapons for the mentally impaired
Our second response, as a nation needs to continue to be to seek ways to reduce the possibilities of such violence. As always, we will not agree as to the details, but we must work together to make progress on some solutions.
In the case of the Orlando shooter, it looks like from early reporting that officials had sufficient info to know that this man should not have had access to weapons. Yet he did. He was even working as a security guard–scary thought, but not surprising. Employers tell me they cannot find out anything useful from anybody for references. Everyone is worried about being sued. So people who should be flagged in that way are not. His employer probably had no idea he had been investigated twice. Stronger flagging of those who have shown they are dangerous individuals is needed.
Again, early reporting shows possible mental health issues for the Orlando shooter. This also should have put restrictions upon his ability to obtain weapons but it did not. This is the single most important change that we need to make as a country. It is not without risks to individual liberty, as mental health risk is very difficult to define. Yet, the evidence from all the mass shootings is piling up and becoming overwhelming. Most of them are done by people of known impaired mental health who still had access to weapons.
We should increase our fear of God
Third, I repeat my insistence that one component of the problem is a lack of the fear of God in our land. The Bible clearly teaches that God will judge murderers of this kind. They are punching their own ticket to hell by their violence against the innocent (Matt. 5:21, 22; 1 John 3:15; Rev. 21:8; 22:15). God values life. God loves the people in the human family. Jesus revealed Satan as the one who loves murder, calling him a “murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). The lake of fire is a picture John uses to describe Satan’s ultimate punishment (Rev. 20:10, 14). And it also describes the reward of those who practice Satan’s behavior. But if there is no fear of God in the land, then potential shooters do not realize that it is not over when they are felled by the SWAT team. Their accountability has only begun. Listen to Jesus.
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:4-5 NIV 2011).