Our thoughts and prayers don’t save us from gun violence
It is the standard response every time we reel from one more mass shooting. Thoughts and prayers. We do not mean to lessen the pain or intrude on the mourning seeping out from the walls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Our hearts ache for one more slaughter of the innocents.
But the truth is thoughts and prayers are no longer enough.
We are tired of hearing about these mass shootings. We are tired of reporting them. We are tired of counting the dead and wounded.
All while waiting for something to be done.
Because the truth is nothing is going to be done. Nothing is going to change.
It’s clear we as a nation do not have the moral fiber to stop this carnage. Otherwise something would have been done by now.
Our elected officials remain content to offer lip service or even caution that it is “too soon” after a tragedy to discuss meaningful gun reform that protects citizens’ Second Amendment rights while also protecting our kids.
We’re not going to hold our breath.
If Newtown taught us anything, it should have been that.
A troubled young man with access to guns calmly walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire. Before he took his own life (and you won’t get his name here), he killed 20 innocent children. Kids.
They were 6 or 7 years old. He also killed six adult staff members.
That was 2012, five years ago.
We offered “thoughts and prayers” then, too.
And did nothing.
Then came San Bernardino. And Orlando. And Las Vegas.
Wednesday, a kid described as “troubled teenager” who had been posting disturbing thoughts on his social media feeds joined the list of this nation’s mass shooting villains.
It’s clear he had serious mental health issues, but none of the many warning signs now being talked about in a mourning community stopped him from acquiring an AR-15 rifle.
He entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., outside Fort Lauderdale, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades, a semi-automatic weapon and multiple magazines of ammo. He was not there to discuss his disciplinary problems, which apparently had resulted in him being expelled.
He was there to unleash his fury, and demonstrate what can still be done in this country by someone with ill intent and armed with an AR-15.
Seventeen dead, several dozen injured.
Unlike some other mass shooters before him, he did not turn his weapon on himself or die in a confrontation with police. He is now in custody.
Since 1997, when three students were gunned down and five wounded at a high school in West Paducah, Ky., there have been no less than a dozen mass school shootings in the United States.
It’s been 18 years since two teens killed 12 classmates at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.
And still we do nothing. Surely after the heartache of Sandy Hook, an event that shook the country to its core, something would be done. It’s not that no one tried. Our own Republican Sen. Pat Toomey reached across the aisle to Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to sponsor legislation that would beef up background checks and eliminate a few key loopholes in our gun laws. It failed.
After the deadly devastation rained down on a crowd attending a country music concert on the streets of Las Vegas, legislation was sponsored to eliminate the kind of bump stock that allowed him to convert a standard rifle into one that could fire repeatedly. It went nowhere.
We will not bother to argue why this kid in Florida had access to a gun.
Or why any private citizen should need such a weapon.
Or what kind of background check he or whoever purchased it had to go through to acquire it.
Because nothing is going to change.
We’ve proved that again and again.
Instead, we will do what the nation has proven all too often we will do. We will simply wait.
For the next time.
We all know it is coming. And we all know what will happen afterward.
Thoughts and prayers.