A conversation with God about mass shootings

May 26, 2022


 I thought about what God would say to us after yet another tragic school shooting. This 2019 op-ed from The LA Times listed 4 commonalities of perpetrators of mass shootings. The authors of the story were Jillian Peterson and James Densley. I’ll link to their original article at the end of this post. 

This is a summary of information the researchers found to be present in young men who committed mass murders. They noted that no two attacks are ever identical but overall, the four commonalities they found were as follows:

1. All suffered some sort of early childhood trauma. Not only sexual or physical abuse, but neglect, bullying or the suicide of a parent. 

2. Some form of a crisis took place weeks or months before the attack, such as a blow up in a relationship, job, or crisis in the school or home. 

3. They all studied the actions of other shooters and were fascinated with the notoriety of other shooters.

4. They all had the means to carry out their plans, and if they didn’t or couldn’t purchase a weapon, they found one somewhere else. 

 Securing a weapon seems to be the last step these young men take before they commit some horrific act of violence. Focusing on gun control ONLY seems like we're missing something. Why don't we examine the steps needed to stop this behavior in young children before it ever takes root? Why aren't we treating our young children better? Why aren't we monitoring their home life and punishing those who hurt children? Why aren't we helping people become better parents? 

Maybe it's time to take action on other contributing factors besides guns alone. 

Then I thought of what God would say.

I don't claim to speak for him, but this is where my thoughts and prayers went.

“Dear God, why are these young men committing mass murders?”

“Because they don’t know love. They don’t know goodness. They don’t know me.”

“Why don’t they know you?”

“Because you haven’t told them.”

“But I didn’t know any of them.”

“Yes you did.”

“I didn’t sell them the guns.”

“People have killed one another long before guns. It’s their hearts that need reforming.”

“But God, that’s not up to me.”

“Well, you’ve been involved more than you know. This problem starts in childhood, and I placed you nearby to help. But you were the neighbor who failed to invite them  to church. You didn't help the single mom with school supplies or Christmas gifts. You were the teacher who cared more about test scores and made little boys hate school by embarrassing them when they couldn’t master a 2nd grade reading level even though they were only in the 1st grade and no one had ever read to them."

"You were the doctor who routinely looked the other way when parents abused prescription or illegal drugs. You were the politicians who didn’t pass laws that would help families and protect children. You were the one who demanded change, when your real purpose was to promote your own political views. You were the filmmaker and video game creator who became rich pushing violence and horror. You were the mom who thought it was cute to listen to music with inappropriate lyrics in front of your children. You were the dad who walked out on your family."

"You were the senator who voted to close mental health facilities —  and you are the one who voted for him. You were the church official who hid child abuse. You were the judge who gave light sentences to those who hurt children. You were the neighbor who didn't make a call for help because you didn't want to get involved. You were the friend on social media who didn’t pay attention. You were the parent who discouraged your college bound child from pursuing their passion of youth ministry or social work because it didn’t pay enough. You were the voter who didn’t require childcare workers and teachers to be properly educated and receive pay that was worthy of their position. You are the one who is uncomfortable right now  . . . but that’s okay, because it means you’re finally thinking.” 

“Sometimes people become sick and don’t always think clearly. They have a mental illness, just like the flu, but you've treated them like they were hopeless and called them, ‘crazy.’ You were the neighbor, teacher, police officer, store clerk, pastor, doctor, counselor, who turned your head away because you thought it wasn’t your business.” 

 “If no one valued these children’s lives enough to help, then how can they possibly understand what it’s like to value others?” 

“Oh God, what can we do?”

“Only light breaks the darkness. Keep shining my light. Go into all the world. Share the good news and love your neighbor.” 

“You’ve told us that before, but we forgot.” 

“I’ll forgive you. Try again." 

Here's the full research article: from the LA Times

  • savan wilson says:

    So glad you are posting to emails again! I always read your blogs as you are a real light to our world. Thank you!

    • Leslie Anne Tarabella says:

      Thanks Savan. I’m using a previous mail service instead of mail chimp. I think it works better. Glad you’re still here!

  • Leslie Anne Tarabella says:

    Dear readers, this is a comment I received by email and wanted to share part of it with you because I want all views represented. I’ve changed a few small things to protect the sender’s identity:

    Leslie Anne, I read the article, and I have to take some exceptions to this.  My son (not a shooter, but…) was in trouble from kindergarten on. We did so much to make him behave.  Teachers complained.  He wound up in jail for drugs.  We punished, bribed, pleaded, tried several different punishments, and still he misbehaved.

     My husband killed himself after it became apparent that our son would return to jail a second time (drugs again).  I feel some parents try a great deal and then get slammed with negativity with their adult children’s negative behaviour.  The social worker and the parole officers all told us be tough.  And of course that was one of our son’s complaints – we were too hard on him.

    So which way do parents go?  Be hard on the kid or be too uncaring and let the situations escalate?

    My response to this mother was:
    First of all, thank you for reading and sharing your story. My heart breaks for you and your entire family. No one plans this path with their children. You said it started when he was in Kindergarten, and the teacher “complained” — this is exactly my point. Where were the teachers, counselors and pastors who should have been compassionate? Where were the church members walking beside you to help you carry this burden and give you hope in raising your son? All of us need to help those who are hurting, but so many times we turn our heads and ignore families and children in pain.

    The social worker and police officers who told you to “be tough” without concrete solutions or offers of real help are just the ones I’m talking about. Teachers who “complain” about a troubled kindergartener need to go work somewhere else. We need more police, social workers, and teachers so they aren’t overworked and insensitive and worn down.

    You have been brave and strong beyond belief. I hope your story will help us all see the family’s perspective. We need to help these young men when they are young. Some take more love and guidance than others and I’m sorry you didn’t get the help you needed. Bless you, and thanks again for sharing your story. I know it will help others see the need for helping those in crisis.

  • Roxanne Bernard says:

    There are no words, yet you found the words. Thank you.

    • Leslie Anne Tarabella says:

      Hugs to you Roxanne. Thanks so much.

  • Sandy Hill says:

    A very moving piece Leslie Anne.
    It was reported that one of the young victims couldn’t wait for school to be out so that he could go swimming every day.
    I believe that our Heavenly Father is lovingly granting him that wish and so much more!

    • Leslie Anne Tarabella says:

      It’s so hard to hear the individual stories, and yet, I feel we owe it to them to recognize their stories and lives. Thanks Sandy.

  • We all are responsible not just the politicians. We get upset with the politics yet we don’t go out and vote. (Low turn out for the primaries recently) We think it is someone else’s responsibility, it’s not our business and we want to hold someone else accountable, its not my job or fault. As you clearly stated we need to look at our reactions or non-reactions and do something. Lord have mercy and get us out of our recliners!

    • Leslie Anne Tarabella says:

      So true. If you ask Kindergarten teachers to identify their “troubled” students, they can tell you years ahead of time who needs more attention and love. It’s obvious early on, and I’m afraid many of the policies prevent us from helping them before they turn violent. We all need to be aware. Thanks for the thoughts Maggie.

  • WOW, moving, touching and, more importantly, convicting. thank you

    • Leslie Anne Tarabella says:

      Thanks so much.

  • Agree 100%…couldn’t have said it better. Thank you!

    • Leslie Anne Tarabella says:

      Thank you Sue. It’s hard to speak what has been put on your heart. Thanks for reading and letting me know what you think.

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