The Ten Commandments contain some of the most well-known ethical principles in the Bible. Even so, the fifth commandment, “You shall not kill”, is so undervalued in America that there have been more mass shootings than days in 2019 thus far.1
Back-to-back gun massacres on August 3rd in El Paso and Dayton have rocked Americans to their core. Once more we see shocked, weeping survivors and family members who will never again see their loved ones. Once again, we see empty shoes left behind by those who were suddenly gunned down in the prime of life. Once again, we ask how this could happen.
It is well-documented that the 2019 El Paso massacre targeted Hispanics and killed 22 people; the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting targeted Jews and killed eleven; the 2016 Orlando nightclub massacre which killed 49 people targeted gays, and the 2015 Charleston church shooting targeted African Americans and killed nine.
What is also well-documented is that 94% of Americans support background checks for all gun buyers.2 It is past time to effect the changes needed to bring our laws in line with the will of the people.
What isn’t as well known is that a common trait among mass killers is their hatred toward women. This is where sexism, racism, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia trip over each other in a macabre death spiral to the bottom. “The fact that mass shootings are almost exclusively perpetrated by men is ‘missing from the national conversation’, said Governor Gavin Newsome of California.”3
While the motivations of men who commit mass murder are complex, there is one common thread other than access to firearms – “a history of hating women, assaulting wives, girlfriends and female family members, or sharing misogynistic views online.”4
The man who was convicted of killing 26 people in a Texas church in 2017 was a perpetrator of domestic violence who threatened to kill his wife. The mass murderer of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando beat his pregnant wife. The Dayton shooter who killed eleven had a history of threatening violence against female classmates.
Hate begets hate and the common denominator is hatred of women. The patriarchal system in which we all live has led not only to discrimination against women, but discrimination and hatred of ‘the other’ whether ‘the other’ is gay, black, brown, Jew, Christian, or Muslim; and we are all ‘the other’ to someone. Let that sink in for a moment.
God created humankind in God’s image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female he created them. God saw everything he had made and indeed, it was very good.
Let’s start there. Shall we?
1Jason Silverstein, “There have been more mass shootings than days this year,” CBS News, August 5, 2019.
2JDomenico Montanaro, “Americans Largely Support Gun Restrictions To ‘Do Something’ About Gun Violence”, NPR.org, August 10, 2019.
3Julie Bosman, Kate Taylor and Tim Arango, “A Common Trait Among Mass Killers: Hatred Toward Women”, The New York Times, August 10, 2019.