When It Comes To Mass Shootings, Your “Thoughts And Prayers” Are Meaningless

The following is the opinion of the writer of this piece and not necessarily of Rise News.

It happened again Wednesday. Another community was shaken to the core by violence and the ubiquitous sound of gunfire.

This time, it was San Bernardino, CA. As the full facts of the incident are still being sorted out, this will not be a rant about terrorism.

Instead, this is about the reactions. According to the Boston Globe, there have been 355 mass shootings in 2015. Note that, as of yesterday, there have been 336 days in 2015.

Here’s a pause to let that sink in.

The United States of America, the “free” country that champions “liberty” is the site of more than one mass shooting a day.

And if you think that number will taper off as the year draws to a close, you are delusional. There will be more.

But again, this isn’t about what could be done to stop this, or what should be done. This is about the people who actually have the power to make changes, and yet do nothing.

Every time a tragedy like this occurs, people jump on social media to send condolences to the victims. This ranges from Mr. and Mrs. Doe to the President.

And with many of these posts, a common phrase is typed. A phrase which has become the default for grief; “My thoughts and prayers”.

This phrase, and variations thereof, is absolutely meaningless. It is just as meaningless no matter who says it, but it is particularly nauseous to read when it is spouted by the very people who should be doing something.

Allow me to break down why it’s meaningless in a rational sense before the political discourse starts.

Thoughts do not get anything done. Words do not get anything done. Actions get things done. And until there are actions taken, nothing will change.

It is up to normal human beings to create change.

The New York Daily News hit this on the nose with cover that ran on Thursday.

You will notice that all (save for House Speaker Paul Ryan) of the Twitter posts the headline highlights are from present contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. You might also notice that they are all Congressmen.

These very men, along with many others of course, have the power to enact new laws. They could put into place stricter gun regulations, or alter conceal-carry laws, or something. But they don’t. And they won’t.

The simple reason: gun violence gets them paid. We all know about the NRA, the National Rifle Association.

While not all gun-owners are registered members, the NRA makes up the largest gun lobby in Washington. As a lobby, they dole out money in the form of campaign contributions to various elected officials.

Of course, this is with the understanding that said officials will work for the benefit of the NRA by either passing or blocking certain bills in either state or national Congress.

So do you want to know how much the NRA is putting in politician’s pockets? Well the numbers are sometimes sketchy, but you can look here and here to start.

Igor Volsky the Director of Video at Think Progress sent out a series of Tweets yesterday, along with an article detailing how much money certain members of Congress received from the NRA.

The common ground between all these politicians listed? They all sent out Tweets yesterday with some version of “thoughts and prayers”.

To sum this all up, look at a Tweet posted yesterday by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT):

This is poignant because of where Murphy is from.

In 2012, he was the Representative for Connecticut’s Fifth District, which included Newtown, the site of the Sandy Hook massacre. He has seen his constituents killed, and he is tired of seeing the same ever-repeating platitudes said with no substance to back them up.

It is time for America and Americans to open their eyes. These are not one-off incidents of lunatics. This is terror enabled by the very people who should be doing their best to keep Americans safe.

It is time to stop gun violence. And it is time to call out those who put the almighty dollar above safety and security.

This will happen again. And when it does, there will be no time for your “thoughts and prayers.”

Cover Photo Credit: Ben Townsend/Flickr (CC 2.0)

What Do You Think?


About the Author
Alex Austin is originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. He currently resides in Tuscaloosa, AL.
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