I have held off commenting on this because I believe that usually our reactions to tragedies are more deserving of study than the actual occurrence, and I wanted to see what those reactions would be.
Many bloggers are concentrating on the words of Hannity, O'Reilly, et al, because the shooter possessed their books and hated liberals. I am tempted to say Pot, Kettle, Black; were President Bush to be assassinated, there would be bloggers appearing in UUpdates who would have cause to hang their heads- but I would be as wrong as the bloggers mentioned above are, because that's not the issue. Rev. Sinkford got it right; "This crime was the action of one man who clearly must have lost the battle with his personal demons." It's not possible to couch one's words such that a tortured soul could not find a call to violence in them- look what South American terrorists made of Liberation Theology; Hell, look what Charles Manson made of Beatle music!
Nor is gun control the issue. This man didn't use an assault rifle, or a cheap handgun; he used the one firearm responsible gun control advocates cite as an example of the guns they're NOT trying to take away- a garden variety shotgun. True, this crime could have been prevented if ALL firearms were eliminated. And all sexually transmitted disease could be wiped out if everyone remained virgin 'til marriage, and faithful thereafter- which would actually save more lives than the elimination of civilian owned firearms. Let me know how that works out for you.
Despite my diversions into pop culture and politics, I call myself a UU blogger- I was looking for religious responses from my colleagues; things like how to deal with the emotions evoked, and how to deal with and prevent such incidents in the future. There have been some, and good ones: on dealing with it on the spot, Reflections Following the Knoxville Shootings: I've Never Been So Proud ; on how the rest of us can deal with it, Ten Ways to take Action Following the Tragedy in Knoxville . The "Ten Ways" list has excellent suggestions for maintaining and strengthening our commitments, but only the last on the list deals specifically with preventing future incidents- I would like to add a few:
1. We should call for mandatory counseling for anyone who has a restraining order sworn against them. The court would (or should) not have issued the order without proof of impulse control issues; if they have these issues, they should be dealt with. Worse come to worst, the counselor may well be able to warn the authorities that the subject was losing it.
2. We should debate and develop ethical standards for the use of force, both to teach in R.E., and to publicly promulgate. And don't give me any pacifist there-is-never-any-excuse-for-violence nonsense, either- what would have happened in Knoxville had congregates not attacked the shooter, even breaking his arm? He did have another 76 rounds on him...
3. How about working with teachers, leaders of other churches, and the public to develop ethics and morality classes that can be taught in public schools? This has always been a thorny issue, but possibly the most important one we could tackle. No doubt there will never be agreement on sexual issues, but couldn't we find agreement on the violence issue with most people?