By Rev. Stephen Reed
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:3)
Time has passed since my last article and people have passed in massacres.
If news reports are correct, law enforcement was already “well aware” of the latest shooter, having responded to his home when family called 911 about him (allegedly) making suicidal and homicidal threats (to kill himself and later to kill his entire family) in 2019. That is very sad.
According to the same reports, the shooter’s dad subsequently sponsored the son through the process to get a Firearm Owners Identification Card — a requirement to purchase guns in Illinois. Consider that for a moment. The dad gets his son through the gun control process to purchase and possess guns, though the son had previously threatened suicide and later homicide. Illinois also has “Red Flag” laws, which had no effect on this previously suicidal and homicidal person getting a Firearm Owner Identification Card.
In my perfect world, when a person threatens suicide and/or homicide, that person would be banned from (legally) buying or possessing any gun. The idea of a parent circumventing the law to arm their child is not unique to this case. The mother of the Sandy Hook shooter (allegedly) bought her son an AR-15, which he then killed her with prior to attacking the school. The parents of the (alleged) Michigan school shooter (allegedly) bought their 15-year-old son a 9mm pistol, defended him after he made threats and ignored that he was armed when he left the principal’s office and began shooting.
I believe that some parents ought to be charged like they were in Michigan. I believe that suicidal and homicidal people ought to be banned from buying guns, not armed by parents.
I also believe that no one should be publishing anything of these shooters: not their name, not their image, not their social media, not their words. Nothing. No one should make the violent and mentally ill famous or infamous. That fame/infamy only inspires others to go and do likewise and spread the contagion of mass shootings.
It seems as though we are living in dark and difficult times. We need to take personal responsibility as parents and members of the community to stem this tide of random acts of violence. If we see something, then we most certainly must say something. If our own child is acting in a self-destructive or violent manner, then we must get them the needed help, not guns.
For much of my life I have participated in pistol and rifle competitions and recreation. I have also been trusted with securing guns of suicidal people. As a parent and shooter, I have never armed a suicidal or homicidal person. If your instinct, gut, intuition, feeling, sense or whatever else you call it, gives you a bad feeling, then listen to that and act upon it. The life you save may be your own (and your neighbors).
The Rev. Stephen Reed is a pastor at St. Paul Church next to Musher’s Hall on Farmers Loop and a Chaplain for Fairbanks Police and Fire.
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on July 8, 2022.
Married 27 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting