Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Man shoots up a church, killing many innocent worshipers. Yep, I think you’ve been there.
If you are of an age from this part of the world, you remember the day Alvin Lee King kicked open the door of Daingerfield’s First Baptist Church and announced, “This is war.” King began shooting men, women and babies.
We have endured way too many reminders of that 1980 Sunday. None more vivid, however, than the Nov. 5 killings at the Sutherland Springs, Tex. First Baptist Church. A sick puppy named, Devin Patrick Kelley, killed more than two dozen until a neighbor with a gun ended Kelley’s shooting spree.
These Texas deaths came close on the heels of a mass murder in Las Vegas where more than 500 were shot. This deluge of grief and pain tests even the most rugged sense of compassion.
Worse than our empathy burnout is the absolute boredom produced by the predictable chatter following these events.
Gun haters grab a microphone and blast Congress for failing to outlaw all firearms other than muzzle loaders.
Gun lovers respond with equal speed and predictability with National Rifle Association coached lines assigning responsibility for these deaths to failure of the country’s mental health system.
Until they can find something new to say, until someone discovers a magic solution, I wish they would shut up and reporters covering the story find someone new to quote.
I do want to note how ably Gov. Gregg Abbott conducted himself in the private meetings with Sutherland Springs survivors and during rounds of media interviews. Vice-President Mike Pence brought the condolences and prayers of the nation to the tragic scene with dignity and class. In moments of crisis, we need someone to set the right example. Both men performed that role well.
My own opportunity to strike the right note of healing turned into one of my more embarrassing moments.
The telephone rang on my desk as we finished getting the daily newspaper out. The day’s top story was King had hung himself in a Daingerfield jail cell. I picked up the phone.
“This is Alvin Lee King,” a voice said…
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