Prayer won’t stop guns: The hypocrisy behind the right’s refusal to talk about gun violence

By Robert Mann

In her 2014 book, “A Fighting Chance,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren puzzled over our culture’s maddening indifference to gun violence. “We lose eight children and teenagers to gun violence every day,” Warren wrote. “If a mysterious virus suddenly started killing eight of our children every day, America would mobilize teams of doctors and public health officials. We would move heaven and earth until we found a way to protect our children. But not with gun violence.”

Warren is right. The only deaths in America we must not discuss or address with any urgency are those caused by guns.

We saw this insane sentiment on display last week after the latest mass shooting – this one in Lafayette, La., where a demented 59-year-old drifter shot and killed two young women and injured six others in a movie theater.

In the immediate aftermath, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made one thing perfectly clear. “The best thing we can do across Lafayette, across Louisiana, across our country, is come together in thoughts, in love, in prayer,” Jindal said the night of the shooting.

Asked about what this meant for changing his state’s gun laws (among the weakest in the nation), Jindal pushed back hard. “Let’s focus on the victims right now,” he said. “Let’s focus on their recoveries. There’ll be a time, I’m sure folks will want to jump into the politics of this. Now is not the time.”

Jindal is not alone in his desire to stall and procrastinate after a mass shooting. He’s only repeating the standard Republican/NRA mantra after similar tragedies: Now’s not the time. This is a period for mourning and prayer. There will be time to talk about how to address the problem later, but not while people are burying their dead. For now, let’s pray for them and hug our kids.

For example, Jindal responded with outrage to President Obama’s call for federal action on gun control after the June 17 shooting deaths in a Charleston church. “I think it was completely shameful, that within 24 hours of this awful tragedy, nine people killed at a bible study at a church,” Jindal fumed, “we have the president trying to score cheap political points. Let him have this debate next week. His job as commander in chief is to help the country begin the healing process.”

Funny, I don’t recall Jindal suggesting anyone wait a week to start discussing how to address the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010, which killed 11 people (most of them his constituents).

Immediately after that disaster, Jindal demanded immediate action on “three challenges: stopping the leak, protecting the coast and cleaning the coast.” No one suggested that Jindal’s quick call to clean up the Louisiana coast was a “shameful” effort to “score cheap political points.”

Instead of prayers, Jindal demanded prompt action. “Officials at the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority are also working with the state’s oil spill coordinator’s office to monitor any potential environmental impact,” Jindal said within 24 hours of the explosion.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, did anyone suggest we should wait a few weeks to pray and mourn before responding to the terrorists who murdered thousands?

Continue reading on Salon.com at this link.

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5 Responses to Prayer won’t stop guns: The hypocrisy behind the right’s refusal to talk about gun violence

  1. John D Fitzmorris says:

    I cannot wait for Louisiana to be rid of this clown buffoon

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  2. jhillmurphy says:

    Thank you! I’m so sick of prayers for gun victims, as if that does anything, as if that will prevent the next madd shooting which is due any day now. Somehow, we’re supposed to think all is fine when someone says we’ll pray for the victims. You’re exactly right – the only crime we’re never supposed to address is one that involves a gun. We’re not even supposed to acknowledge a gun had anything to do with it. Prayers mean jack. Universal background checks, banning assault weapons – now that would save people from dying needlessly.

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  3. jechoisir says:

    I am not a fan of Governor Jindal. I believe he wasted all the political capital and good will he had earned through his early successes in hurricane management and recovery. He might have ridden that high tide to reform our state’s woebegone public education system, the ground for any economic and social improvement. He had the opportunity. He might have gone parish to parish explaining the Core curriculum that he had favored, gaining the support of parents and teachers, and resetting the aspirations of the children of our state. He might have worked with university and high school teachers to modify the Common Core reading materials and revisited the mathematics pedagogy, while maintaining the same standards in order to make the plan more acceptable to dissenting groups. Instead, he went state to state trying to sell himself for president, while he left important board appointments to political cronies who were footing the bill for those travels and while he himself neglected the business of the state.

    Yet, I believe your article unfairly characterizes his refusal to respond politically to the theatre shooting in Lafayette on the morning after that event. His reply was consistent with his remarks after the Charleston shooting and stood in marked contrast to the shameful political race to blame the Confederate flag and southern history in general for what happened in that church and to set off a shameful binge to rip down any memorials to our communal Southern past. Grief is not a time for clear thinking. At such times, we are governed by passion, not reason. We seek quick fixes. We blame others. And we need both passion and reason to make sound decisions or to construct effective policies.

    I’m not a fan of the NRA, either, though sometimes I wonder if I should not be. I’ve torn up NRA petitions asking to have rocket launchers included in the list of approved armament used for hunting in this nation. I don’t like the group’s hypocrisy about its motives and its refusal to sponsor responsible gun-control measures itself.

    But as much as I hate to say it, I think they are right when they say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That kid in Charleston was in deep trouble spiritually, psychologically. He had formed no attachments to virtues like compassion. He had no moral or spiritual value that compelled his life and gave it meaning. Almost certainly he had not spent a lot of time in a religious place of worship as a child, and his education had given him no heroes from history or literature whose virtues might prove worthy of emulation. His home and schools had left him without positive ideals or a vocation or trade that might provide a basis for a purposeful life of family and future. The President of his nation had let loose the dogs of racism and repeatedly attacked the police who are paid to enforce laws and to maintain the kind of protection that makes possible civilized life. Every popular medium bathed him in violence—-games, movies, television—and public news agencies sensationalized every mass murderer, repeating their names until Americans know those names better than they know the names of Nathaniel Greene or Fiorelo Laguardia or Clara Barton. And his foolish parents, who knew he had expressed both murderous and suicidal ideaions, bought him a gun instead of getting him to a psychiatrist pronto!

    So he constructed an identity and purpose for himself from the culture he had, something that energized and organized him. The black racism of the summer almost surely influenced him, but it might almost as easily have been something else. Just the cause de jour. It’s just that the spring and summer’s white-bashing probably insulted him more, reminded him of his personal impotence and unimportance. The pattern is familiar to us by now. White boys soaked in a violent culture that affords no compelling models of goodness and no compelling spiritual conceptions of life seek meaning in fame, which their culture does provide as worthy. They become angry Kardashians. These are boys who have grown up in the period following angry feminism, when folks mock Charlton Heston types of masculinity and when the fathers on television programming are fools who require women to save them from themselves.

    And then there are the adult psychopaths like the Lafayette shooter, who live in the same culture.

    How do we construct laws that will really work to keep guns out of the hands of psychopathic criminals like the latter and out of hopeless, meaning-seeking boys like the kid in Charleston? What must we do to current laws that preserves the right of the sane and sober to purchase and own guns for legitimate purposes and at the same time keeps guns out of the hands of criminals, the aimlessly evil, and fame-seekers? That’s a complex issue. It is not one that deserves a sound-bite answer in the wake of a theatre shooting.

    I think Governor Jindal was right in refusing the bait offered him that morning after the shooting. He had been with the parents and kin of those killed and injured. Death personalizes life even for politicians, reorients our views, reminds us that before we are political people, we are individual human beings—and that every single death changes the world for someone. The Governor’s response acknowledged that.

    The U.S. is not England or Europe. It was founded largely by people who had fled those places, who had seen how the limitation of arms only to the aristocratic and the monarch’s armies unnaturally squelched liberty and free speech. Barring a few groups like the Quakers, Americans consciously chose to assure the right of ordinary citizens to bear arms, primarily to assure no government, even the one they formed, could overpower defenseless individuals. And so a complete ban on guns is not likely to occur here. Ever. There are reasonable limitations that can be created, and the politician who can enlist the moderate members of the NRA in helping to design those limitations will do a good service for the nation.

    But such laws will not and should not be drafted at a press conference the morning after a shooting like the one in Lafayette. And I don’t think they will be able to stop such incidents.

    I find myself wondering why the press has not asked to what extent the Charleston shooting was affected by the President’s and his Attorney General’s clearly racial and inflammatory—and instant—responses to the incidents in Missouri and Baltimore and Florida. Or why these boy shooters find so little worthy in our culture that they choose to end their lives by taking the lives of others. Have we lost the sense of brotherhood because we rejected the structure that created it, a religous worldview?

    Could it be that prayer might actually be more efficacious than yet more pointless regulations? that reconstructing a culture that acknowledges a Divine Being inheres in each person might address the real problem better than ersatz regulations? And if we must have regulations, why not ask the press to join in doing what Megan Kelly did on Fox News—-refuse to name the shooter, thereby taking away at least part of the element of fame?

    All of these are questions a serious press ought to be asking not merely of our elected officials, but of our nation as a whole. For these shootings are largely time-limited. What in our society helps accounts for this? It can’t be only guns or even dime-store cheap guns, for they’ve been around for a long time. Could it be that the problem is not one of guns only, but of a barren culture? that having spent 50 years tearing down the ideals and institutions of our culture, that American Liberalism has produced a culture barren of hope or virtue or purpose? And Fame is all that is left?

    As for that moment in Lafayette, I think if you asked the families of those involved, they would agree with Governor Jindal on this one. The life of a person deserves more than political bickering or baiting, I believe.

    ……………..

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  4. Ara Rubyan says:

    Significant progress in ending gun violence will happen the day after a 6-year old kid takes his AR-15 and shoots up a building full of old, fat, white guys.

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  5. Matthew Walton says:

    Why the hate toward overweight white seniors? Gun violence, like all violence, will end when criminals and the mentally ill stop shooting people. Why don’t we focus on the behavior, instead of the hardware? I read yesterday where Russel Honore said that the right to bear arms guaranteed to all free American Citizens by the Second Amendment didn’t mean that actual free Americans could take their arms anywhere they want, at any time. That’s obviously how he feels, since we know that under his watch as commander of JTF Katrina, law-abiding citizens were illegally and unconstitutionally disarmed, depriving them of the Natural Right of self-defense. When will the liberals realize that laws and rules only control the behavior of law-abiding sane people?

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