Brian Oaks
Brian Oaks

Jesuit priest James Martin summed it up this way: "If your thoughts and prayers are truly with somebody, it means you are going to do something to help them. Jesus prayed. But He prays, and then He acts. We also have to act."

Memo to members of Congress: you were elected to enact laws. You are the legislative branch of the federal government. It’s a big job! Voters chose you to do, among other tasks, debate and discuss difficult issues and pass bills that make your citizens have a healthy and safe life. While thoughts and prayers are welcome in a time of tragedy, none of you were elected to send us “thoughts and prayers.” Please do your job!

Have your thoughts and prayers caused you to review and rethink your previous positions on gun control? Prayer is an important tool for many and is not being dismissed, but it alone does nothing to try to prevent the next attack. Unfortunately thoughts and prayers do not keep people from shooting innocent victims. First I heard prayers for the parents of the Sandy Hook school mass murders, then the people in Orlando, then the victims at the Las Vegas massacre, and now the Baptist Church members in Texas. 

Statistically, a US citizen is more likely to be killed by a gun in the US than by a terrorist. After any act of terrorism involving a Muslim, our politicians promise expensive potential remedies such as securing the border and hiring more Homeland Security agents. 

While I have no problem with spending money to stop terrorism, I am at a total loss that after homegrown mass murders using guns, the legislature pauses for a prayer and then moves on. After the Texas tragedy, the US House had a “moment of silence” for the victims and then moved on to discuss legislative issues that did not involve guns.

I don’t want to get shot at the courthouse or the movie theatre or the shopping mall, but US citizens have. And there has been no legislative action whatsoever to attempt to reduce the future risk. Clearly, I am not a “gun nut,” but I have no problem with any citizen who passes a background check from owning guns. 

I have two simple suggestions, (1) everyone who wants a gun must pass a background check; no exceptions at gun shows or over the internet and (2) no automatic weapons or legally commercial products that transform a gun to an automatic. Other than people wanting to do harm to innocents and those who profit from them, who could possibly be opposed to this?

I think that exclaiming “thoughts and prayers” after a tragedy has become Congress’s way of justifying doing nothing. I encourage them to prove me wrong.