When Did Prayers And Thoughts Of Support Become Political Fodder?

By

Leonard Zwelling

Here’s another furor we don’t need as a country.

A few celebrities, mostly on the left, have castigated those expressing their prayers, remorse, and support for the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. Apparently, these tweeters were offended when prominent politicians, including the president, sent thoughts and prayers to the town and the survivors, especially the wounded, instead of discussing gun control. Talk about a false choice!

When a tragedy such as this occurs, most normal people look for meaning or at least an explanation. There will be none coming. It is most likely that the now dead shooter was mentally unstable with a history of bad behavior. He never should have been able to purchase a gun, but due to a mix-up the Air Force did not send his service record that included a court martial for assault of his own family, to the FBI’s database.

When the inexplicable occurs, even when it was the Challenger disaster which eventually was explained as a systems failure, Americans need their leaders to act as comforters. The president must be comforter-in-chief and while Mr. Trump is not great at it, he tries. Sometimes.

In the case of the carnage on the lower West Side of New York City, he was more than willing to forego all legality and send the alleged murderer to Guantanamo or the gallows without a trial. But that killer was an immigrant and his weapon of choice had four wheels instead of a firing pin. When the violence is perpetrated by a white American talking about the gun laws as a root cause must be delayed.

I feel the pain on all sides, but just because this murderous rampage occurred in a church, does not mean prayer and thoughtfulness is not called for. It is.

So let’s everyone just calm down and return to the planet Earth. We have a problem with gun violence.

Yes, the inadequacy of the mental health system is part of the problem, but the vast majority of those struggling with mental illness, don’t turn to violence on any scale. There is no question that a better health care system would include more extensive and interventional assistance for those with psychiatric diseases.

Yes, the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution indicates Americans can own guns. But do we really need 300 million? Furthermore, the total is concentrated in the hands of a relative few. Why is that? How many guns does one person need to hunt with or shoot at targets? And who the heck needs a semi-automatic weapon besides the military and law enforcement? These are killing tools not sporting implements.

The president and the Speaker of the House and other prominent leaders were right to try to ease the pain of those in Texas and the rest of the country with soothing words. Turning to a higher power in times of stress is a singularly human thing to do and has been for the past 5000 years or so. Maybe more.

Of course, the gun issue needs to be discussed now. There have been way too many incidents with assault weaponry in the hands of the deranged and the just evil to ignore the problem as anything but one of public health.

It is true that far more people are killed in auto accidents than with gun violence. However, we need cars for our everyday lives. Do we really need all the guns?

Everyone is trying to cope. Congress should take this up and flout the forces of the NRA and do its job to protect Americans as best as it can. That being said, thoughts and prayers of support are always a good idea, too. It’s all of a piece if America is to make a dent in the scourge of violence that only seems to be accelerating.

Leonard Zwelling