It’s not just the guns

What got me was the photograph of the church. I spent an hour Tuesday reading accounts of the massacre, and many of them were illustrated with a photo of the little white church. Each account I read contained more horrors, and with each click, another photo of the church.

I know why the church photo made the stories so much more painful: Just two months ago, on September 6, I sat in a church that looks just like it. I was in Dangerfield, Texas, another tiny town 400 miles from Sutherland Springs. I remember the date because it is my wife’s birthday, and it was her mother’s birthday, and we were at my mother-in-law Sara Hukill’s funeral. (I know.)

Over the past 20 years, I went to church with Sara only a dozen times or so, but still—reading the horrifying descriptions of the massacre, I can picture the scene pretty clearly. And while Sara’s family is Church of Christ and not Baptist, the Texas church-people telling the stories feel familiar to me. They even speak with Sara’s accent.

“The frightened children made him angrier,” one of them said of the shooter.

What kind of man, when confronted by a terrified, sobbing 5-year-old, becomes enraged, looks her in the eye, and shoots her dead? What was wrong with Devin Patrick Kelley? What is wrong with the American men who are making mass murder a common occurrence? How did the United States become such a hyper-violent nightmare? That’s what I want to know. These, to me, are much more important questions than, “how did he get the gun?”

And yes, of course we need stricter gun laws, and fuck the NRA.