Our thoughts and prayers don’t save us from gun vi­o­lence

Northern Berks Patriot Item - - OPINION -

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.

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