There was another mass shooting on Aug 3rd, 2019. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick offered his thoughts and prayers. Minutes after that, Rev. Al Sharpton offered thoughts and prayers adding prayers without works is meaningless. This act of violence, the gun control debate, thoughts and prayers are also meaningless.
Thoughts and prayers to God have been the American way in the wake of these tragedies for years now. To date, God seems to have done nothing to address the issue. Why? Is this a part of God’s will and loving plan? Was God killed in one of these mass shootings while on another skee-ball excursion? God could have taken human form and on his way to play skee-ball, could have decided to go to a music festival, see a movie, or shop at Wal-Mart.
In the middle of all of this I did see Karen on social media praise God that she found a great parking space. It is possible God was busy taking care of Karen’s needs to make it to Zumba on time? Being her personal GPS and ensuring her good parking in Jersey may have been distracting.
I reached out to an atheist for comment and he told me the likely reason God does not respond to these thoughts and prayers is due to the non existence of God. Regardless, thoughts and prayers seem to be ineffective.
Texas Is A Gun Advocate’s Answer to Prayers
The events at the El Paso Wal-Mart marks the 16th mass shooting in the state of Texas. This is a state that is a gun rights advocate’s answer to prayers. No ammo restrictions on magazines, no license required for open carry of rifles, no background checks for private purchase and stand your ground laws in place.
There should be good guys with a gun on every corner with no possibility for a bad guy with a gun to get away with anything. But the reality was the same as it was in Paris Texas in 2016. In an active shooter situation everybody carrying a gun was a suspect. Well meaning ill prepared and ill trained good guys with guns in a mall will not know who a bad guy in the mall is.
There were off duty police, armed military and self professed good guys with guns in the mall. None of them apprehended the suspect. One man, Glendon Oakley, was assisting children leaving the mall with his gun in hand. He had to explain to police that he was a good guy with a gun as he had it out in the presence of children in an active shooter situation.
20 people died at the hands of a bad guy with a gun and the only way he was stopped was by trained police officers. They got him into custody without firing a single round. Speaking of which, none of the good guys with guns fired a single round in El Paso or in Paris, Texas. Thoughts and prayers did not reduce the death count either.
Open carry forced the police, in more than one instance in Texas, to view every person with a gun as a suspect and imminent threat in a situation like this until proved otherwise.
The Suspect In Custody And The President
The alleged shooter, a 21 year old white male, seems to be a Trump supporting racist who wrote a manifesto that includes his concerns of the threat of Mexican people. He may have felt it was his duty to protect America by driving to a harmonious border town and go on a killing spree. As of this writing, 20 people are reported dead and 26 injured. Some of those people are Mexican Nationals here legally. Thousands of people cross the border in El Paso every day. They are business partners, neighbors and friends. From all accounts this is a beautiful community that has lost loved ones because of someone who was radicalized. Not radicalized by Muslims. Radicalized by white nationalists who love Trump, AR-15’s, racism, thoughts and prayers.
We have a president who makes careless and callous and racially charged statements that vilify immigrants, people of color, Mexicans and elected officials of color who disagree with him. In his campaign to become president he advocated violence against protestors at his rallies. He allowed racist chants about a foreign born elected official who came here legally. Despite claims he tried to stop them, it is clear he basked in the attention and the hate. Just a few days ago a Trump supporter assaulted a 62 year old man for disagreeing with Trump’s policies. This is behavior that Trump has blatantly encouraged his supporters to do.
This history of Trump advocating for violence and remaining silently complicit when his supporters go too far make radicalization of a young man to commit an act of terror very simple.
Columnist Mike Royko Gave Up: So do I
Mike Royko was a columnist who wrote for the Chicago Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune in a career that spanned 3 decades. He was my inspiration for wanting to be a journalist and a columnist. With wit, sarcasm, and no tolerance for BS, he made his points savagely. Every day in high school I would turn to page 3 of the Chicago Tribune to see what Royko had to say about the news before first bell rang.
When I was a senior in high school, there was a school shooting in another Chicago suburb near where I lived. A woman named Laurie Dann entered public school in Winnetka, Illinois on May 20th, 1988. She opened fire in a classroom after telling the children she was going to teach them about guns. She killed one 2nd grader and injured 5 others.
I had read many articles from Mike Royko where he eviscerated the NRA and problematic gun laws. I could not wait to read what he had to say. My hero was going to wake up the city and the nation. Mike Royko was asked to write about the matter. On May 26th, I felt my heart sank as he wrote about why he was not writing about it.
I attached a scanned image of what I read from him when I was 17. It will be at the bottom of this article. As a senior in high school I was a photographer for the high school paper and staff photographer for a small local paper. Until I felt the codependent call to become a minister, this was all I lived and breathed. My camera. News. Comics. Miami Vice. Driving too fast.
This was my first awakening that some battles cannot be won, even by your heroes.
Mike Royko basically said that in 25 years of battling gun laws in his columns, he had given up. There was a cycle. Public outrage. Lawmakers would try to invoke old gun control bills to get them passed. The NRA and the GOP would put an end to that swiftly. We would wait for the next preventable tragedy. Does any of this sound familiar? The only thing that is different now is we have a 24 hour news cycle and thoughts and prayers to a god who is silent on the issue.
I’ve written about gun control a few times. I had the hubris to belive that I could accomplish what my hero could not. The most recent I penned was when my child, Dave, graduated high school. “My Child Graduated and Did Not Have to Die Defending the 2nd Amendment.”
I would love to see this battle won. My inspiration to be a columnist fought from 1963 to 1988. He told us the cycle that continues today with even greater escalation. 31 years later, here we are with more dead people, a deranged fool with a gun and thoughts and prayers.
In Chicago with tight gun restrictions, it happens. In Texas with virtually no gun control laws, it happens. The NRA and the GOP will continue to march forward into madness and nothing will change. No amount of pubnlic outcry, legislation attempts or thoughts and prayers will end this.
I will vote. I will support those who want to stop this madness. But I am done writing about it. I am done speaking about it in social media. The NRA, the GOP and the Evangelical Christians have replaced value of life for a gun. The same group that claims to be for pro life cannot be bothered to fix this. Instead they kill bills and prohibit research into the matter. They offer thoughts and prayers as opposed to change.
There is one other thing I am done with. I am done with discussions and memes from the pro gun groups and fans. I cannot and will not be friends or associates with those who believe this madness is the sane path.
To those who have lost loved ones in El Paso, please forgive my sarcasm about thoughts and prayers. I do not for one moment mock your tragedy. My anger is with the reactions people have in the wake of these events. I am livid at the repeating cycle that columnists and activists have tried to fight against for at least 56 years now. I have lived and still live in fear that a deranged madman could come into my child’s school and make my child a statistic.
People ask how many more of these have to happen before this ends? It likely won’t in my lifetime. People ask what can be done about it? The UK, Japan, Australia and Germany have addressed gun violence very effectively, but we lack the courage and humility to learn anything from the playbooks they have written. So something can be done, but it won’t be done.
Buy a bulletproof backpack for your kids. Watch your back and pay attention to the emergency exits when you are at concert festivals, movie theaters, shopping plazas, churches and restaurants. Save your thoughts and prayers for the dead, because a lot more funerals are going to happen. Mothers, fathers, pastors, children, teachers, police officers and more.
I am aware that another tragedy happened in Dayton, Ohio while I slept. When I wrote this, the conclusions is that I am done writing about this. If I were covering the event, the responsible thing to do would be to tie them together. But this is an op/ed and I am done speaking on this matter.
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