OPINION: Thoughts And Prayers Aren’t Enough

Cierra Stewart
Contributing Writer

I remember the morning of August 4 vividly. My dad woke me up with the chilling words, “Hey, you better check on your friends at UD. There was a shooting in the Oregon District.” I checked my phone to see several calls and texts from family members from all over the country asking if I was okay, along with news notifications about the shooting with mentions of places I was shockingly familiar with. 

Dayton; Oregon District; Ned Peppers – these were words that I actually had a personal connection to, unlike every other mass shooting I had read about this year. Throughout the day, I struggled to process just how physically close this horrifying event had happened to my home.

The thought that It could have been me kept echoing in my head. To most people, this was just another mass shooting that we, unfortunately as Americans, are used to hearing about all the time. But I never expected it would happen in my own community.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, approximately 100 Americans are killed by gun violence every day, and hundreds more are shot or injured. There have been a total of 312 mass shootings in 2019 alone, and at the time of the Oregon District shooting – only two months ago – that number was 250. 

As you probably remember, it was the second mass shooting in 24 hours (El Paso, Texas), and the third one in a week (Gilroy, California). Why have mass shootings become so commonplace in America that each new incident is simply a drop in the bucket of violence and death?

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Typically, the aftermath of mass shootings follows a predictable script – there is always a lot of news coverage in the first couple of weeks, followed by calls for legislators to pass laws on background checks, bans on assault weapons, and greater gun safety legislation – to which legislators typically respond by giving their “thoughts and prayers” and saying that “now is not the time for partisan discourse.”

 But if not now, when? Each and every time, no actions to stop the violence are taken, people stop writing their representatives and standing with signs at rallies, and the issue fades from the front page until the next massacre.

We all know that thoughts and prayers are not enough. That is why I am part of a group of students from several organizations and departments on campus who have coordinated a rally to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence, and to encourage people to take action and contact their representatives to DO SOMETHING and pass gun control legislation on Friday, Oct. 4th – the two month anniversary of the Oregon District shooting.