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In many ways, America seems more divided than ever politically, with division bleeding over into virtually every corner of daily life.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the gun debate fueled by escalating firearm violence across the nation. Second Amendment advocates and the powerful National Rifle Association lobby are squared off against those significant restrictions on high-capacity magazines and assault-style weapons. And while Congress is working to pass a bipartisan gun safety law, the division on Capitol Hill isn’t likely to lead to any groundbreaking reform.

Last week, a gunman entered St. Stephen Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills during a pot luck supper, pulled out a concealed handgun and opened fire, killing three people before being disarmed.

It’s particularly jarring because it hits close to home. A church supper in an upper class suburb is the last place one would expect such violence. The victims are in their 70s and 80s. The shooter, now in custody, is reportedly 70 years old; his instrument of death was a concealed handgun.

The circumstances upend prevailing theories about disaffected youth and assault weapons, and suggestions that the answer to rampant gun violence is “good guys with guns” to counter the madmen. The St. Stephen gunman was disarmed by a congregant wielding a chair.

It’s obvious that whatever our society is doing to address the epidemic of gun violence is woefully ineffective.

What’s clear is that all of us – conservative, liberal, independent, young, old, wealthy, poor, Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, devout, and unchurched – are in the crosshairs.


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