It is, of course, right and just to mourn those murdered Sunday morning in Orlando, to console the survivors, to condemn the homophobic hatred that seems to have triggered this tragedy, and generally to lament the regular recurrence of such crimes in our national life. Such responses we have heard and will continue to hear in abundance.
For example, Archbishop Cupich of Chicago yesterday issued a fine statement:
We are grateful to the first responders and civilians who heroically put themselves in harm’s way, providing an enduring reminder of what compassion and bravery look like--even in the face of such horror and danger.
In response to hatred, we are called to sow love. In response to violence, peace. And, in response to intolerance, tolerance.
The people of the Archdiocese of Chicago stand with the victims and their loved ones, and reaffirm our commitment, with Pope Francis, to address the causes of such tragedy, including easy access to deadly weapons. We can no longer stand by and do nothing.
In the end, however, all such concerns will lead to little or nothing until we as a society address the last of those points - the "easy access to deadly weapons."
It is a fundamental responsibility of a civilized society to protect its citizens and their ability to go about their lives in relative peace by monopolizing the use of force. One of our society's highest priorities ought to be getting guns out of the hands of civilians, who in a modern civilized society have no business having them.
Unfortunately, making things even worse than they already were, our notorious Supreme Court has recently rejected a long tradition of constitutional interpretation, that took the Second Amendment as meaning what it literally says regarding state militias, to misconstrue the Second Amendment as creating an individual right to have a gun. (In 2008, District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a gun.) Until and unless that destructive mentality changes, what hope have we as a nation?