The shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis is a name that would have – likely – never entered your mind. Nikolas Cruz wasn’t destined to cross your path, either. Their names have left obscurity and anonymity, but they have not become memorable through service and accomplishment. Within the space of 90 days, their bent toward murder and calamity has put them in a category of infamy: School Shooters of 2018.
Parkland, Florida in February; Santa Fe, Texas in May: those are the most recent occasions when a current – or, former – student has walked onto a high school campus while in session with the intent to kill (and, most often, be killed in the process).
Within a nano-second of the news that the situations had been neutralized and the perpetrators had been apprehended, the political battles over gun control and school security had resumed. The active shooter status around classrooms can be retracted, but there is never a cease-fire regarding public policy and partisan culpability. The campaign to blame elected officials for evil events will result in more headlines than the criminal proceedings that will someday determine the fate of Cruz and Pagourtzis.
Cause and prevention will be at the core of thousands of hours of public debate and discourse as candidates and academics, philosophers and agitators claim clarity about the darkness that brings people – mostly men, mostly young – into environments where defenseless students become motionless figures on their macabre canvas of destruction.
Here’s what we won’t hear as the talking heads reveal their empty hearts: at the root of most of this tragedy is the breakdown of the American culture, and the center of the culture’s rot is the dismissal of the American family. The family is in disarray because marriage is in steep decline, and the rejection of the historic Christian faith – the disapprobation of values as portrayed in the Bible – has put America into a moral free fall.
Find a school shooter who came from an intact family, led by a dad and mom who love each other and are committed to the marriage vows that included words like, “faithful and true… honor… obey… ‘til death do us part,” whose family were more likely to be at church on Sunday than a sports complex, who learned memory verses and knew family friends as “Uncle” and “Aunt,” showing respect for adults because they learned it at home. Put the suspect in a line-up who was baptized by choice because they had “accepted Jesus as their Savior,” and went to a Christian club on their public school campus (now likely banned by a school board seeking to avoid class-action suits).
Amy Wax and Larry Alexander – both law school professors at public universities, from both coasts – were vilified last year for suggesting in their published op-ed that the bourgeois American values of the 50’s created a cultural environment that would not have fostered the kind of anarchy that has now become commonplace. Their description was clearly Christian, with the heart of faith removed.
Do we blame the store that sold the guns, or the family that produced the shooter? Does the decision to remove God from the campus – in any form or fashion – mean that the Evil One will be welcome there, 24/7/365?
History – as recounted by God, in the Scriptures – portrays people/nations as predictably short sighted. For a period – years, or generations – the blessing of God elevates a populace who honor Him. Then, their abundance becomes their entitlement, and their debt to the divine is dismissed. It happened to Israel: “In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)
Ban guns? Is there a better solution? “If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)