Alden Graves | Graves registry: The country that never seems to learn

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I am certainly not an expert on the various religions that are practiced in America, but I would like to think that the foundation of all of them is a figure or a being that represents and perpetuates the ultimate goal of mankind to live in peace. This is America in 2020, however, when it seems increasingly apparent that, to pay homage to God, it is necessary to bring a gun to your place of worship.

The man who killed the shooter in a Texas church on Dec. 29 is being regarded as a hero. In the sense that he undoubtedly prevented more deaths, it was fortunate that he was there. But, for every person who carries a weapon for the protection of others, there is someone who shouldn't even be allowed to be near a gun. And they are, again and again.

Those politicians in thrall to the dictates of the NRA just dance around the plague of senseless slaughter that occurs so frequently in the United States that we barely pay any attention unless the death toll is in the double digits. Right on cue, they will shift the focus to the problem of mental health (an issue that they will, no doubt, fight to deny funding to adequately address). People with serious mental issues were left to wander the streets during the tenure of Ronald Reagan, the GOP's reigning tin god, because it was cheaper than funding the mental institutions where they were cared for.

The real madness is the Republicans' adamant refusal to recognize that the problem is the guns.

The man responsible for the shootings at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement (honest, that's the name), Texas was evidently upset that the church was refusing to give him money along with the food it was providing.

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"We've helped him on several occasions with food," minister Britt Farmer stated to a reporter. "He gets mad when we won't give him cash. He's been here on multiple occasions."

The killer had an extensive criminal record that included charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. In one of his more bizarre escapades, he soaked tampons in gasoline and set a cotton field on fire. He would do the same thing with a football, dousing it in an accelerant and then playing what he called "fire football." He didn't have enough money to buy himself food and it should have been patently obvious to anyone who interacted with him that he had serious mental issues. But he had a gun.

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Would I have been thankful that a sane person was armed if I had been a congregant at the Texas church? I suppose I would have. But, videos of the shoot-out show the potential for a much more perilous situation. The man who stopped the lunatic gunman said he had a clear shot at the killer's head so he fired. (I still find it difficult to believe I'm talking about something that happened in a church.) There were other people who were armed sitting in various places throughout the building. Imagine a "clear shot" not presenting itself so early in the carnage and a Dodge City-style shootout erupting in a crowded sanctuary.

The gun crowd's self-serving crowing about how the system works because this time a mass murder was thwarted misses the entire point. (Adroitly missing the point seems to be their most frequent defense historically. They still dredge up "Guns don't kill " from time to time.) Because they refuse to accept any kind of rational gun control measures, including banning military style assault weapons, these mass killings are going to continue.

Moving on to the "are we really going to do this again" department, on Dec. 31, Eric Trump tweeted the following: "Bout to open up a big ol' can of whoop ass." Eric, you may recall is generally considered to be less bright than his older brother, a minor criticism to be sure when you consider that neither of them possesses the brainpower to illuminate a shoebox.

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His infusion of macho braggadocio was inspired by the fact that his father, Commander Bone Spur, had authorized the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a very bad person we have been assured by people who really should be throwing stones. I would like to point out that Eric Trump, an entitled rich kid, who is only relevant as far as quoting goes because he is related to someone else, will not actually be the one to "whoop ass" if Iran takes measures to retaliate for the assassination, any more that his father ever risked his pampered neck during the Vietnam era.

The whoopers will be someone else's kids. They always are. I would really like to know the basis for the tweet beyond the juvenile chest-thumping. Unless I missed something, this country hasn't managed to prevail in a single military conflict since 1945, despite another Republican warrior getting all dressed up in his National Guard costume and declaring the war that still rages in the Middle East to be a "mission accomplished" nearly 20 years and 4,424 lives ago.

The John Wayne theatrics, however, are a surefire way for the Republican Party to peddle the killing and its possible ramifications to a base mired in adolescent fantasies about patriotism and to deflect attention away from the fact that Donald Trump may be the one to get an ass whooping next November if the world isn't a smoking cinder by then.

Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Banner.


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