Thoughts and Prayers - Shawn Loughlin editorial
As most of you have no doubt heard by now, it happened again. Someone went into a school with an AR-15 assault rifle and killed a number of people. In this case, at least 17 people were killed and 14 more were injured by the lone gunman, who has been identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as pointed out by journalist Jeff Greenfield, is the 18th school shooting incident in the United States since Jan. 1. By comparison, Greenfield also pointed out that there have been 18 school shootings in the rest of the world over the last 20 years.
As has become comically predictable (as comical as it gets after a mass shooting, I suppose) U.S. Republican politicians, including President Donald Trump, were quick to offer their thoughts and prayers.
These politicians, who all receive campaign funding in the millions from the National Rifle Association (NRA) due to their pro-gun stances, always offer their thoughts and prayers, saying that after such a confusing incident, that’s all they can do.
As many on various social networks have been quick to point out, the thoughts and prayers of these politicians (sorry to my pastor friends out there) don’t seem to be doing anything. However, these citizens are also quick to point out that there actually is something the politicians could be doing beyond thinking and praying about the incident. They are among the few who could be working to enact gun control legislation. If the Republicans were to all vote for gun control, they could affect change and perhaps stop these shootings. Instead they throw up their hands and blame a myriad of factors.
Mental health is to blame, they say. It may be the shift of many from religion is another working theory, along with illegally-obtained guns and classics like video games, movies and music like heavy metal or rap.
After the shooting, The Onion, a satirical “news” website ran a headline saying “‘No way to prevent this,’ says only nation where this regularly happens.” Satirical, yes. Accurate? Also, yes.
In this globalized economy, every other country in the world, save a few, has what the U.S. has. They have citizens with mental health problems. They have religion (and people leaving it for various reasons) and they have video games, movies and music. However, these shootings aren’t happening at this rate anywhere but the United States.
So, what does the United States have that other countries don’t? Guns. Lots and lots of guns. In fact, according to data from 2007, the United States is said to have 101 guns per 100 residents. That’s right, just a hair over one gun per person. When compared to other countries, it’s not even close. There’s Serbia at 58.21 in second place followed by other developing nations with small populations like Yemen, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. You have to get to Norway, France and Canada to get into the range of 30-31 guns per 100 residents.
This obsession with guns makes me sick, as does the rhetoric that comes in the wake of these shootings that declares more guns as the solution to the problem. Had every teacher in that school had a gun, we’ll hear, this incident never would have happened.
Until politicians no longer have a monetary reason to vote for guns, these shootings will continue and the blood of the victims is on all of those representatives’ hands, no matter how much thinking and praying they do.