‘Thoughts and prayers’ not enough

Smart Americans, those not physiologically joined at the hip to a semi-automatic assault rifle or other deadly firearm, have had enough of the hypocritical cant which immediately follows every, seemingly inevitable, shooting rampage in their country.

Variations on the "thoughts and prayers" theme are trotted out by the gun-loving politicians each time somebody embarks on a bloody shooting spree. This week’s horrific events at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which ended the lives of 19 third- and fourth-grade children and two of their teachers, and left another 18 people wounded, are particularly appalling.

It is difficult to find words that adequately express just how terrible these killings are and how without hope they can make you feel. It’s like a punch to the gut that leaves you reeling and breathless. Did that really happen? How could anyone do that? How could anyone let it happen? And let it happen over and over and over again?

The violent deaths of those 8- and 9-year-olds have torn away part of the souls of their parents and families and friends forever, and left their small town floundering and much-diminished. Think what those innocents may well have achieved in their lifetimes, what their loss has robbed their community, state and country of.

Yet we must always cling to hope, however hopeless things may seem. Hope that there will be change; hope that the right people will do the right things to bring that about.

"Thoughts and prayers" alone won’t cut it. In fact that expression has become a bad joke for those who have seen such slaughter repeating every few months across the United States.

It was only two weeks ago that 10 people were shot dead, and three injured, in a Buffalo supermarket by what police say was a white-supremacist teenage gunman. A quick look online reveals mass shootings in the States on almost every day so far this month.

"Our thoughts are with the families", "they are in our hearts", "we are fervently lifting them up in prayer". These are largely hollow words when uttered by politicians who know damn well they could have helped stop the next atrocity by taking a brave stand.

Those milquetoast malcontent Republicans are either too cowardly to stand up and make a difference when it comes to gun-control laws or too conflicted and tied to political funding from the National Rifle Association (NRA) to let their humanity shine through.

It speaks volumes that this time the awful Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz seemed to be blaming an unlocked back door at the school for the massacre. It could never be the easy availability of guns, particularly assault rifles, that is to blame, could it Senator?

Mr Cruz’s subsequent refusal to talk about gun control because it would be politicising the issue just beggars belief and shows what kind of human he is, funded by the NRA. His colleagues Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney also showed themselves up as hypocrites, mealy-mouthing the tragedy while doing whatever they can to slow or stop reforms.

A lot of baloney is talked about protecting the US Constitution’s Second Amendment on the right to bear arms. However, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Berger called the gun lobby’s interpretation of it "one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American people".

The purpose, he says, was to ensure state armies could defend their state, not to "guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires".

And so the clock starts ticking down again to the next American mass-shooting, and the religious Right continue their bizarre reasoning that protecting the use of guns is more important than protecting innocent lives.

The argument from the NRA and its captured Republicans that "guns don’t kill people — people kill people" is fallacious in the extreme. Guns are expressly designed to kill living creatures.

That same logic could be turned on its ear to say that policies don’t kill people but politicians do.


Hear hear, right on the nail.

Yes Burger did say that in 1991. That was his opinion as a private citizen. In 2008, the supreme court decided in District of Columbia V Heller that there is an individual constitutional right to have a handgun in one's home for self-protection. Two years later, in a second case, the court made clear that its decision applied to the states as well as the federal government. In declaring an individual right to bear arms, the court made clear that there are limitations on that right. Primarily the right to bear arms doesn't bar the government from regulating firearms. You fail to mention these facts. The United States accounts for 46% ownership of all guns in the world. There are more guns than there are people in the US. The Small Arms Survey estimates that there are 393,347,000 firearms in civilian possession. The number of registered firearms is estimated to be 1,073,743 or .002%. People like Feinstein, Pelosi, and Biden say they want to confiscate all the guns. Realistically, how do you propose to do that? It cant be done mate!

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter