Thoughts and prayers ...


There are few better places to find solace these days than our homes, and for those of faith, our places of worship.

On any given Friday, Saturday or Sunday, our churches, synagogues and mosques are where we share time with our extended family and friends, spend quiet time in prayer and contemplation, and learn how to be good to one another.

In Sutherland Springs, Texas, however, all of that was destroyed for a small Baptist church when a gunman walked in, brandishing a high-powered assault rifle, killing 26 people and injuring 20 others. 

In a matter of seconds, one gunman wiped out 4 percent of a small town’s population. That came a little more than a month after another gunman with the ability to fire a rapid succession of bullets killed 58 people and injured nearly 550 others in Las Vegas.

Yet, all the gun deaths that sad Sunday didn’t occur in just that small church. Another 21 people were killed in non-suicide gun violence on Nov. 5, according to the nonprofit watch group Gun Violence Archive. That includes a 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed outside his apartment in Brooklyn.

Many from across the country and around the world flooded places like social media with a common refrain: “thoughts and prayers.” It’s a go-to line whenever tragedy strikes, and one that has become far too common of late.

While “thoughts and prayers” are likely the best thing we can offer each other, it’s the last thing we should hear from people like our elected officials. You know, members of Congress and the man living in the White House who could actually do something about this.

“May God be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas,” President Trump said on Twitter while continuing his trip through Asia. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan took to Twitter as well, sharing that “the people of Sutherland Springs need our prayers right now.”

What the people of Sutherland Springs and everywhere else in the country need is some commonsense gun control legislation. Especially the type of guns that can rapidly fire a mass of bullets in a matter of seconds.

Unless you’re a soldier in our military fighting a war — you don’t ever have a need for such a weapon.

But then we hear the arguments that if we’re going to ban assault weapons, then why don’t we ban trucks too, like the Halloween ramming attack in Manhattan that killed eight people and injured 11 others.

Except that’s a silly argument. A truck is something typically used to transport people and heavy objects from one point to another. Sure, it could be turned into a weapon, but it’s not designed to be a weapon.

A high-powered assault rifle has a single job: Kill as many people as possible. You don’t turn an assault rifle into a weapon — it already is a weapon.

And here’s the thing. We don’t need to wait for some divine intervention. We have the power to make a difference, here and now. 

Some of our more local leaders like U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel have tried. He supports a number of bills that have gone almost nowhere in Congress, including the Protecting Americans from Gun Violence Act of 2017.

Thoughts and prayers are a nice sentiment. But if we really want to end this, we must get up and do something to finally end this senseless violence.