Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

Politicians’ request that we remember the victims of gun violence and their families with “our thoughts and prayers” is no longer enough. Events of the past couple of weeks in Virginia and around the country remind us that our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are less secure from gun violence in the United States than in any other developed country in the world. No place is secure from persons intent on causing gun violence: in a tour bus, at home, in a Walmart, in a nightclub, in school, on a college campus, in a place of worship — no place!

That the Founding Fathers had in mind the unregulated access to firearms when they wrote the Second Amendment is baloney. That is why they qualified the right to bear arms with a “regulated militia” now represented by the National Guard and the armed forces.

Certainly thoughts and prayers are needed for the victims and families of the football players at the University of Virginia, the mother and her three children in Chesterfield, Virginia, and the employees at the Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia. Elsewhere, we must remember the patrons and their families at the LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs and the innumerable killings that take place daily but do not meet the threshold of four persons killed to be called a “mass shooting.”

Thoughts and prayers need also to be directed to political leaders to develop the political will and courage to respond to this national emergency and these tragedies. Once political leaders fear voters who demand action on gun violence more than they fear the NRA, the Civil Defense League and the gun manufacturers, change can occur. 

In 2020 Virginia took historic steps to pass sensible gun safety laws including my bill to require universal background checks for all gun purchases and laws to disarm domestic abusers and to restrict access to guns by persons in crisis. Those advancements resulted in Virginia being rated 14th in the Nation in gun safety laws by the Everytown for Gun Safety organization. There were attempts this year and likely will be next year to roll back these advances, but the public needs to send a clear message that we need to do more — and not less — to protect our children and families from gun violence.

The presence of guns is a common denominator in too many examples that can be given on the loss of human life. Many of the gun-related deaths are suicides. Some are accidental that tragically include the deaths of young children. Too many of the deaths are from weapons of war that have no practical use in a civilized society.

The protections of the sensible gun safety laws on the books in Virginia need to remain in force. Additional gun safety laws that will allow the hunter, the hobbyist, and the responsible citizen to keep their guns but are directed at those who are irresponsible should be enacted. Add to your thoughts and prayers that persons in power do what is necessary to protect the citizenry from gun violence.