For Your Safety and the Safety of Others…

The first time we went to Disneyland as a family, it was a very interesting experience.  A lot of the major rides were closed.  Small World was close to be decorated for Christmas.  Splash Mountain was closed for cleaning and maintenance.  Space Mountain was closed for its multi-year redesign.  Finally, Thunder Mountain was closed for investigation. It was the last one that worried me.

The Princess was a very adventurous 4 year old who wanted to ride pretty much everything.  We were very strict about following safety guidelines with her, and I admit I got anxious when I heard there had been a problem on one of the rides.  So I asked around (locals like to talk) and slowly found out the story.  The desk clerk at our (non-Disney) hotel asked how our day at the park had been.  I whined just a little about the number of rides being closed and he was happy to tell the story about what happened on Thunder Mountain.

Apparently two young men had decided for reasons known only to themselves to attempt to remove a stalactite from the cave portion of the roller coaster.  They stood up while the ride was in motion, tried to grab the prop from the moving vehicle, failed, and died in the attempt.  The ride had been closed, an investigation ensued, and Disney was found that they were not liable for the ‘misuse’ of the attraction.  The interesting part of the story is what came next.  After the state investigation, Disney conducted its own.  In spite of the fact that they had been found to have done nothing wrong, Disney kept the ride closed and made safety updates and moved some of the decorations and props further from the track to eliminate the temptation of passengers to risk their safety.

It was an interesting story, but I was still annoyed that I didn’t get to ride the roller coaster.  I shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced because someone else was foolish.  I wasn’t going to stand up on the ride.  I wasn’t going to try to grab the props or decorations.  There was no reason I should be punished for what someone else did.  Honestly, if people were going to be stupid, there was nothing anyone could really do to stop them.  However, even while I was feeling whiny, I knew that Disney was making the right decision.  People’s safety, even the safety of people who were going to make poor choices, was more important than my inconvenience.

I have been thinking about this story this week as we have once again entered the gun control cycle that follows a mass shooting.  People call for stricter regulations to keep guns out of the hands of those who misuse them.  Gun owners respond by saying they shouldn’t be punished for the actions of others.  The argument rages back and forth, eventually settles down, and nothing changes.  Another shooting takes place and the cycle begins again.  Each time it seems that the break between debate and death is shorter and shorter.  It’s time for the cycle to stop.

Should the 99% of safe gun owners be inconvenienced because of the actions of the 1%?  Absolutely.  If people are going to make horrible choices with the weapons available to them we need to take those choices away.  Guns should be harder to get and easier to track.  Will that make life harder for people who own guns?  Yes.  But I am past the point of caring about that.  The 298 mass shootings this year mean I no longer care if gun owners have to wait in long lines.  The 74 school shootings since Newtown mean I don’t care if it takes a month or more to get licensed for a weapon.  And the ten funerals in Roseburg Oregon, where Mr. Mouse’s aunt lives, where The Princess and I have gone shopping, where I have spent Thanksgiving with family, mean that it is time to regulate the 99 so that the one can be stopped.

If you’re still with me (I have probably lost some people at this point), you may be thinking that this is not an appropriate topic for a church blog, a Disney blog, or a church blog about Disney which of course this is.  I disagree.  Jesus did not talk about gun control.  There were no guns.  But he did talk about protecting children and their faith (Mark 10, Matthew 19).  He is called the Prince of Peace, not war.  He told a very famous series of parables where the majority are left behind or inconvenienced in order to deal with the behavior of the 1.  Jesus would be more concerned with human life than with the ‘rights’ of the majority.  This is a church issue.  It is time for us to stand up and say enough.  It is time for us to make our communities safer even if it makes life more difficult for some.

Mass shooting statistics are quoted from http://www.shootingtracker.com

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