Today's Paper Newsletters LEARNS Guide Fish Story Contest 🎣 Asa Hutchinson 2024 Today's Photos Public Notices Digital FAQ Razorback Sports Puzzles Crime Distribution Locations Obits

OPINION | GREG HARTON: “Thoughts and prayers” should lead to action to reduce gun violence

by Greg Harton | April 16, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.

For people of faith, prayer is a powerful act. Seeking divine wisdom or intervention is a sign of just how serious one considers a situation.

And so the push to diminish "thoughts and prayers" as meaningless in the debate over the prevalence of violence affecting our nation bothers me. If anything ought to be front and center in our thoughts and in our petitions for guidance from a higher power, it seems the heartbreaking deaths stemming from gun attacks on schools, places of faith, businesses and other locations should be among them.

I understand the point people try to make when they malign the expression of thoughts and prayers. They're suggesting such expressions ring hollow when they're coming from politicians who refuse to do anything different even as the body count of kids, teachers, co-workers and others rises.

Little school children are repeatedly the victims of violence as the nation does political battle over the role of guns and the power of an arms-manufacturing industry that knows no bounds. Politicians who are in the national or state leadership positions capable of affecting change regularly rely on thoughts and prayers as their "do nothing" refrain.

Thoughts are thoughts. They're internal and mean very little in the current debate if they don't affect actions. Good thoughts may reflect an earnest concern, but they accomplish nothing.

Prayer is different. If you're praying about something, it's pretty sure that you're pleading for something to change and seeking guidance to make it so. My Christian upbringing suggests prayer isn't simply dumping everything in God's lap then going about your day. Prayer involves an element of saying "Here I am, Lord" and a willingness to respond to God's guidance.

Our politicians who pray should know it doesn't let them off the hook. Rather, prayer is a petition for God to show us the way. And maybe it's just my own theology, but I don't think God is content to let prayerful people dump their troubles on Him without Him having an expectation those same people will get up off their butts and take action.

There's another phrase in the gun debate that's become an expression of frustration over a lack of action and results. A doctor who treated gunshot victims from last week's workplace shooting in Louisville, Ky., was one of the latest to employ it.

"I'm a doctor. I don't know what the answers are. But to everyone who helps make policy, both the state, city, federal, I would simply ask you to do something, because doing nothing, which is what we've been doing, is not working," he said.

Do something!

I respect the call for action, but doesn't it seem rather hollow itself? I don't know of a single solution to any problem, particularly one as complex is this, in which a pleading to "do something" produced any actionable steps.

But the doctor was undoubtedly sincere: He's using his expertise to repair the damage, to the extent he can, of bullets tearing through flesh. Isn't it reasonable to expect the people who claim they are leaders in our national and state capitols to do what they tell us every two or four years that they're experts on: leading the way to solve problems?

Like others who feel the need establish some credibility, I'll say it, too: I'm a gun owner. I have a concealed carry permit. I believe Americans can and do own guns responsibly. But elected leaders are failing to make sure the United States is a safe place for both responsible gun owners and those who choose not to own guns.

Can the U.S. be a Second Amendment nation without sacrificing children to mass shooters? It was for a long time, before guns became a religion unto themselves upon which Congress shall not infringe.

Print Headline: Prayers and the religion of the gun


Sponsor Content