I’m not praying today. Prayers do not convey the anger or the numbness I feel about the Orlando shooting. Samantha Bee’s reaction sums it up for me in terms of anger. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t88X1pYQu-I). When I was in middle school, someone once told me she would “pray for my diabetes” (like my diabetes cared) but then complained to the teachers that I was able to eat snacks in class while others couldn’t. She said it wasn’t fair to her kid. I brushed it off as ignorance.
Years later, when I was in high school outside my original district, a school board member I knew personally told me that she was thrilled to have me at the school. She claimed that she loved my strong grades, my talent, and my enthusiasm for learning. However, at the next Board meeting, she voted to remove out-of-district kids from the school because, she claimed, we “sucked resources from the school.” My point is, people’s words don’t matter if they don’t back them up with actions. Prayer is useless if we do not back up our appeals to God with actions that show how serious we are.
Our problem with guns in this country is an extreme version of those examples. We wax poetic about the tragedies inflicted by gun violence, but refuse to acknowledge means and ways to fix it. We must back up our feelings with laws.
Perhaps Florida Governor Rick Scott doesn’t realize how offensive his request for prayers are. Speakers who request prayers only to deflect attention from the fact that they will not write or promote gun control legislation are a sorry source of leadership. How can our leaders prioritize the manufacture and sale of assault rifles over human lives? Forget the idea of us taking control of guns. Guns and money control us as a nation. As a nation, we consistently prioritize the rights of major money (Ahem! NRA) to control our Congress people.
I just keep asking myself: Who else has to die for this to matter to them? Who will be important enough for us to change? Years ago, I would have thought the answer was children, but Newtown proved me wrong. When will we stand up for the victims of gun violence, regardless of which groups we’re a part of? When will we stop being accomplices to the murder of our own people? When will we hold the NRA and gun manufacturers accountable? Unfortunately, I predict that it will take the death of the children of gun manufacturers or Congress people before we tear down the excuse of the Second Amendment.
A word about the Second Amendment. The debate about its original intent again deflects from the actual issue. Any law in this country can be undone. What we should discuss is the vision for the future of our country. Do we want responsible, every day Americans to be able to own guns for self-protection, legal recreational activities, and hunting? I think many people would say yes. Do we want criminals, extremists, and kids to have access to military-grade weapons without restriction? I don’t care what most people would say, the correct answer is NO.
When we function as responsible, legitimate members of society, we agree to obtain a driver’s license to drive a vehicle (which, as activities go, is still more dangerous than the chance of going out to a public place and getting shot, but the gap is closing all too rapidly for my comfort). We agree to get a passport to show where we legally belong in the world (I could go on for hours about how ridiculous nationalism is, but nevertheless, I abide by passport laws and rules). Using legislative power, we tell many people what they can and cannot do every day. As responsible adults and citizens, it is our duty to make rational decisions about guns and weapons and their role is in our society.
It’s also high time we allow the CDC to study guns, gun violence, prevention of gun violence, and other questions around gun use. It is beyond time to allow physicians to recommend gun safety to parents, like they would a healthy diet. The hour has past to stop praying for the devastated families of lost loved ones and change how guns are purchased and to whom they are sold. Should we link the no-fly list with a no-purchase list? Why not? We can try it and if it produces no reduction in gun violence, we can strike it from the books and try something else. The more we do, the more we learn. JUST DO SOMETHING.
Just like everything else we legislate, change is painful. But the status quo is killing us.
PS – Maybe I’m wrong about prayer. After all, several people have prayed for my diabetes and lo and behold! 25 years later my diabetes is still going strong. Keep praying for the victims and their families and in 25 years I guarantee, we’ll still have those, too.