The 14 county employees who were killed by an armed-to-the-teeth couple in San Bernardino this week hit us hard at the state agency where I am employed. Although I did not know any of the people involved, I do have professional contacts in San Bernardino County who emailed me to let me know that all non-essential county offices were closed for the remainder of the week.
This latest horror occurs right on the heels of the terrorist attacks in Paris in which so many lost their lives. Indeed, the media now tell us that the San Bernardino murders had terrorist connections as well.
All the presidential candidates, both Democrat and Republican, have now been addressing the issues of gun control and stamping out terrorism. Perhaps I am too jaded for my own good, but I am not so sure that there is much that can be done about either one.
Let us not forget that we have now reached the third anniversary of the mass murder of innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. And then there was the mass killing in a church in Charleston, South Carolina and so many other scenes of loved ones ripped from us in an instant by bullets.
Most gun murders barely make a blip on the local news due to the fact that, typically, only one or two people are killed, and they are usually family members. Then there is gang violence about which we throw up our hands and chalk up to the breakdown of the American family.
I don’t think there are any easy answers for us. In other countries, ownership of firearms is illegal. Despite the gun lobby screaming that if owning guns were a crime, only criminals would own guns, the murder rate is far lower in most other nations than it is here in the United States. As an article in The Washington Post recently pointed out, Congress will never make any significant move toward gun control due to its effect on liberty interests (in other words, the Second Amendment).
So I guess this means we are stuck. Placed in social context, however, our propensity for murdering each other should come as no surprise. The sad fact remains that there is no longer any respect for life in this country. Any society that sanctions abortion, capital punishment and hunting is obviously just as happy to have dead corpses in our midst as it is to have the company of living beings.
I am constantly appalled by the way we treat animals, from the terrible abuse of pets to the murder of cows, pigs and birds so that we can eat their flesh. But, really, it all makes sense. How can we hope for any respect for our fellow creatures when we don’t even value the lives of those of our own species?