Las Vegas Sun

April 25, 2019

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Prayers appear no match for NRA’s clout


Gerald Herbert / AP

Kaitlynn Cooper, 12, facing, hugs her friend Allison Shonk, 18, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, during a vigil at the Parkland Baptist Church, in Parkland, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning.

News flash: prayer ain’t getting the job done.

There is no easy way to say this, for obvious reasons, but it has become painfully, heartbreakingly and frustratingly clear that people praying to God to fix the problem of mass gun murders in the United States of America just isn’t working. In fact, as best as I can tell, using God as an excuse for doing nothing has cost us, yet again, another 17 lives — this time at a high school in Florida in one of the safest cities in the country.

We said enough after Sandy Hook. We said no more after Orlando. And we said never again after Oct. 1 in Las Vegas. We have been saying those words for years now and yet, year after year, from Columbine to Parkland, we just bury our dead, pick up our lives and carry on.

Oh yeah, and the whole time we are hearing from politicians what they are going to do to end the carnage but will not do. We hear them invoking prayer as the answer, as if they are trying to place the blame on someone far more powerful so that the elected leadership’s complicity in the murders will be forgiven by the public — by the mothers and fathers of the dead children, and by the rest of the country, which cannot understand why what they want isn’t what Congress and the president want for them.

Lest there be any confusion about why our children keep dying in their classrooms, the answer is as clear as the membership card in a few wallets across this country. The National Rifle Association — which started out to advance the rights and obligations of hunters in America and has morphed into a shill for gun manufacturers who just want to sell more guns — owns enough members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to make sure that any legislation designed to prevent more deaths and infuse a level of sanity into an insane situation that exists only in the United States, will not happen.

If you don’t believe me, check out the contributions to GOP members of Congress who do their level best to protect those who sell guns at the expense of those who are murdered by them. The contributions to these politicians amounts to millions of dollars — not in total but for each politician — which makes it difficult for them to choose your children’s safety over their own political careers. Difficult but still wrong in all circumstances.

When will it really be enough? Who else’s children have to die at the hands of some crazed killer with an AR-15 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition? It is clear that the lives of our own kids are not sufficient to make the politicians act.

As a grandfather, I am sickened every day that my little ones are dropped off at school and we don’t know whether they will come home that afternoon. As a parent, no one in the United States should ever have to live with that kind of anxiety. We are compelled by the government to send our kids to school, yet, our government refuses to do what is necessary to keep them safe. In what other world would such dereliction be acceptable?

And what about here at home? In 2016, the people of this state voted to require background checks for any gun purchase at a gun show staged in Nevada. Every week, I drive down the Strip and see a sign for yet another gun show in this city. But our governor and our attorney general have done not one thing — however difficult that may be — to implement the will of the voters in this state.

Need I ask whether the NRA is lurking around their campaigns?

So what has happened since the murders in Florida last week?

There have been speeches by mostly GOP politicians who are praying for the victims and their families. That is good.

They are also praying for solutions to the problem of too many guns, too many nuts and too many nuts with guns. That is bad. It is bad because it just isn’t enough. Prayer alone is not saving the lives of these kids and their teachers. And that which doesn’t save lives, that which further costs lives, makes accomplices of all of those who have failed to act.

Yes, that includes each of us because we are the government. We vote for the people who refuse to save our children. We share in the blame.

Oh yeah, and where is the president in all this?

President Donald Trump called for prayer and promised to make this a top priority — even though he had signed a bill revoking a regulation that prevented some mentally ill people from buying guns.

Hello? This is madness.

The only question is: When will it stop? Better put: When will the mothers and sisters and daughters in this country make it stop, because it is clear that the men are just too cowardly to face off with the NRA.