On the radio last week, I heard a police officer being interviewed about the shootings in his town of Roseberg, Oregon. He said something like, “We’re just in shock. Things like this always happen somewhere else, not in a town like ours.”
I was surprised to hear this. I take it for granted that, someday, a public shooting is going to happen in a town, school, or church near me, maybe at a time when I happen to be there.
As we know the shooting of Michael Brown was not just one incident, in one town. The reason that the fear and concern grew was because it was that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. It was the outcry of people who have been living under a system that has targeted young black men.
We had a week of frightening headlines as each day greeted us with a new horror. Yet, the chorus soothes my troubled soul as I inhale and imagine God filling me with peace in the midst of all those dreadful dispatches.
After the Senate refused to take up several gun-control proposals Wednesday, I checked in with faith-based activists on the legislative process. (See my earlier Century article.) Many expressed frustration but also tentative hope for future prospects. "I'm deeply disappointed and very angry at the vise grip the NRA has on this issue," says Katherine Willis Pershey of the #ItIsEnough campaign.
Many activists weren't thrilled with the legislation to begin with.
On July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey—just across the Hudson River from Manhattan—two longtime political adversaries faced off in a duel. The result: Vice President Aaron Burr shot and mortally wounded the former secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton. (No, Dick Cheney was not the first vice president to shoot someone!)
Dueling, which Benjamin Franklin characterized as a “murderous practice,” was technically illegal in most states.