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That used to be a welcomed thing to do. These days—not so much. Maybe it is because a national conversation about guns has been kicked down the road for so long that the masses are beginning to demand it. Regardless, let us not diminish the goodwill that thoughts and prayers intends to send to all those affected.
For people who live away from the horror, thoughts and prayers are a way of saying that we sympathize with those who are suffering. For the religious, it is a way to seek divine intervention for those struggling to cope. For the non-religious, it is a way to send the peace of Light and Hope. So, welcome the thoughts and prayers and do more by sending some too.
Having said all of that, it is now time to have a national discussion about guns. Since adults seem paralyzed by the topic, students around the country already have begun taking action. There was a lie-in in front of the White House on Monday afternoon, and a national student march is planned for March. There is also talk of a national student walk-out to garner attention. It is good to see the young people taking a position of leadership on this complex subject.
Let's talk about the elephant in the room: the National Rifle Association.
Politicians are being roasted over the NRA influence in our political process. This is typical and follows every shooting. I do not belong to the NRA—nor do I own a weapon—but I respect both the organization, its mission, and the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
As a political science major, I understand why the Founding Fathers added the Second Amendment protections for all law-abiding citizens. A quick history lesson reminds us that colonists rose up again the British soldiers to gain our independence. None of that would have been possible without our forefather's owning muskets and handguns. Fast forward to the present, it is imperative that our population retain a right to protect themselves and, in the very unlikely instance, resist and overpowering government that might want to dispense with the Constitution. Will that happen? Probably not. Could it? You bet.
Background checks were a great idea—on the surface. Sure, they stop some bad people from legally purchasing a weapon, but I have to believe a criminal is not interested in passing a background check to secure a side arm. Those intent on using a gun or rifle to commit a crime are going to find a way around any system we impose. They will find a source for the weapon. We can pass any law imaginable, but the bad people will still get their hands on a gun.
I would like to see the NRA make some proposals. Such a situation gives political cover to both sides of the debate and it would be an excellent starting point. The left will demand more, the right will demand less, but it would begin a conversation. Eighteen school shootings have happened so far this year—it's time for a conversation.
Until that discussion begins in earnest, please join me in sending all goodwill to those affected by this tragedy. They are in my thoughts today... and will be throughout this national discussion. And, as a Christian, I pray that each of the families finds peace in the difficult days ahead.