Gun violence in America: the fires of Moloch


And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of Ben Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Moloch; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination. – Jeremiah 32:35

Moloch was the ancient Phoenician and Canaanite god known in Deuteronomy for the practice of propitiatory child sacrifice. Apparently, the Hebrew prophets of old had a hard time convincing people that they should stop the practice. There are few images more horrifying to us modern folk than that of fearful people offering up their own children to be burned on the altar of a domineering death-making god. Yet we are seeing the fires of Moloch burning in 21st Century America.

Moloch, via Wikimedia Commons

Moloch, via Wikimedia Commons

This week we have seen yet another disturbing incident of promising lives brought to a sudden end by gun violence — in keeping with our pattern of one school shooting per week. Once again there is talk of stronger gun control laws, yet we are impotent to make any changes. Even when we see students gunned down, and we know that there are steps we can take to make such incidents less likely in the future, we feel powerless to do anything. Our failure to act even in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre  in which 20 young children were killed, all of them 6 and 7 years old, demonstrated that we would rather sacrifice our beautiful preschoolers than do anything that might be perceived as a sleight against the Bill of Rights — they’re the price of our “freedom,” just ask Bill O’Reilly. Our words say that we honor American freedom, while our actions say that we live in fear and have so little regard for our children that we will willingly feed them to our modern day fires of Moloch.

(To see a map of all the mass shooting since Sandy Hook, go here.)

In a country whose politicians love to shout “God Bless America!” at the end of their speeches, and whose people speak of faith in the public square and argue about putting the Ten Commandments on display, it is the ancient and brutal god Moloch who holds sway over so much of our public discourse. Indeed the fires of Moloch continue to consume our children while nothing is done to extinguish those flames.

Why Do We Tolerate Death and Glorify Violence?

According to The Brady Center, “Over 18,000 American children and teens are injured or killed each year due to gun violence. This means nearly 48 youth are shot every day, including 7 fatalities.”

And here are some more statistics from The Brady Center:

America has a problem with gun violence

  • One in three people in the U.S. know someone who has been shot.
  • On average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room.
  • Every day on average, 55 people kill themselves with a firearm, and 46 people are shot or killed in an accident with a gun.
  • The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population.
  • A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.

Gun Violence Takes a Massive Toll on American Children

  • More than one in five U.S. teenagers (ages 14 to 17) report having witnessed a shooting.
  • An average of seven children and teens under the age of 20 are killed by guns every day.
  • American children die by guns 11 times as often as children in other high-income countries.
  • Youth (ages 0 to 19) in the most rural U.S. counties are as likely to die from a gunshot as those living in the most urban counties. Rural children die of more gun suicides and unintentional shooting deaths. Urban children die more often of gun homicides.
  • Firearm homicide is the second-leading cause of death (after motor vehicle crashes) for young people ages 1-19 in the U.S.
  • In 2007, more pre-school-aged children (85) were killed by guns than police officers were killed in the line of duty.

Gun Violence is a Drain on U.S. Taxpayers

  • Medical treatment, criminal justice proceedings, new security precautions, and reductions in quality of life are estimated to cost U.S. citizens $100 billion annually.
  • The lifetime medical cost for all gun violence victims in the United States is estimated at $2.3 billion, with almost half the costs borne by taxpayers.

Americans Support Universal Background Checks

  • Nine out of 10 Americans agree that we should have universal background checks, including three out of four NRA members.
  • Since the Brady Law was initially passed, about 2 million attempts to purchase firearms have been blocked due to a background check. About half of these blocked attempts were by felons.
  • Unfortunately, our current background check system only applies to about 60% of gun sales, leaving 40% (online sales, purchases at gun shows, etc.) without a background check.

Why does our society so quickly come to the defense of guns after every deadly incident of gun violence? There are those who call for change, but such calls are always met with resistance from people who cannot tolerate any change in our gun laws. Lawmakers are forever paralyzed by the gun lobbyists and the fear-mongers.

Freedom or Fear?

Why are our representatives unable to put a stop to gun violence? If the people had their way, universal background checks would be implemented and assault weapons would be banned tomorrow. The sad fact is, however, that our people seem to be too fearful to consider a peaceful society. We say that we are honoring the Second Amendment to the Constitution – that we hold the Bill of Rights to ensure our freedom – but the truth is, we live in fear. Why else would we be so powerless to stop our current practice of sacrificing children to the fires of gun violence?

Charles Kinnaird is one of those English Majors who went on to find gainful employment in the varied fields of teaching, social services, and healthcare. He makes his home in the South with his family along with a menagerie of pets. His writing interests, as seen on his blog, Not Dark Yet (, include politics, spirituality, social commentary, and striving toward the common good.

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11 Responses to “Gun violence in America: the fires of Moloch”

  1. TheOriginalLiz says:

    It is child sacrifice and, as a nation, we’re okay with that.

  2. judybrowni says:

    Well that was some reasoned argument: you’re got going there, sonny boy: Just Say Nope.

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  5. gratuitous says:

    Fuck off, asshole. Nobody asked you.

  6. Sho Rembo says:

    George Washington didn’t help America become free from Britain by talking with them. He shot them.

    Don’t know anyone who worship guns and ammo. I know folks who enjoy them, and understand what they are.

    But you stick with your great reckoning. Will probably be reading about you in some seriously violent act you have committed due to your reckoning not happening soon enough for you.

  7. Sho Rembo says:

    You misunderstand “regulated”. It means regular. I hear, even in commercials, about our bowels being regular. Should we be regulating through law our bowels? Are your bowels well regulated?
    I don’t hear people advocating for more guns and violence. Perhaps you are hearing that from the folks you hang with. Me, I don’t hear it. Might want to reconsider who you hang with.

    So, you are going to stand up to some person twice your size, and go fisticuffs with them? Wouldn’t you rather take them out for wrongfully attacking you and/or your family and possibly killing you and/or your family? Will you achieve this by downing a can of spinach?

  8. Sho Rembo says:

    Nope. Don’t subscribe to the NRA, but they aren’t what you say.

    And America is not a democracy.

  9. 2karmanot says:

    I’ve said it before and I say it again: The NRA is a proto domestic terrorist organization that needs to be disbanded. The AG should begin minute investigations into it’s leadership and internal affairs.The NRA is a clear and present danger to American democracy.

  10. gratuitous says:

    When the people of our society finally decide that we love our children and our fellow citizens more than we love guns and violence, we might get off the schneid and enact some of those well-regulated regulations I’ve read about in the Constitution. When we finally decide to quit listening to deranged people who ceaselessly advocate for more guns and more violence, we can start thinking about budging off of square one. When we finally decide that we’re not going to cower in fright from imaginary childish threats and stand up like men and women, we might grow up if only a little bit.

  11. Skye Winspur says:

    Very well said. The words of President Lincoln in his 1865 inaugural address often come to my mind after a mass shooting:

    “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war
    may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all
    the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of
    unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with
    the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword…”

    A great reckoning is coming for the guns-and-ammo worshippers, and the wealth the industry has amassed on the bodies of dead children (and these are REAL children, Ms. Fiorina) is not secure.

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