Column: Your “thoughts and prayers” are not enough

Condolences alone will not prevent tragedies like the shooting in Sutherland Springs from happening again and again. Only action will.

Madi Baughman is a freshman journalism and political science major at MU. She is an opinions columnist who writes about political and civil rights issues for The Maneater.

On Sunday, Nov. 5, 7 percent of the town population of Sutherland Springs, Texas, was — to put it bluntly — wiped out by a gunman. These people were not putting themselves in a dangerous situation. They were at a place where many feel most safe, actually: in a house of worship. They were all innocent people attending a church service, caught in the path of a man with a semiautomatic rifle — a weapon he should not have legally been allowed to obtain in the first place.

After every tragedy like this, people are quick to say that now is not the time to discuss gun control or preventative measures. But when is the time to talk about it, when there is a mass shooting nearly every day? At the time I am writing this column, there have been roughly 388 mass shootings so far in 2017 — but the numbers just go up every day. There is never going to be a good time to discuss how to take action against violence. The time is already too late for the victims.

This is part of the problem we face in the social media age. Don’t get me wrong, social media is great to be able to find connections and ways to help out, but now that anyone can just post that the victims are in their “thoughts and prayers,” it allows people to feel like they’ve done enough just by acknowledging it happened.

Another part of the problem is that we’ve become so desensitized to the issue that we feel like we can’t really do much in the grand scheme of things — which is untrue. This is our country, our democracy, and we have to be the ones to make things happen in it, not sit by idly.

A new assault weapons ban is going to be introduced on the Senate floor, but if we really want it to make an impact, we have to do our part to get in contact with our senators — and other people holding power in local government, as well — to let them know that we care.

This is not to say that thoughts and prayers are inherently bad, because they’re not. I’m not saying that you should give up sharing your thoughts and prayers at all, because caring about people enough to reach out to them and let them know you’re there for them is an important thing to do. But thoughts and prayers alone will not prevent tragedies like the shooting in Sutherland Springs from happening again and again. Only action will.

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