Like archived stock footage, we’ve seen this happen time and time again.
Breaking news alerts flood social media as reporters broadcast live footage from the scene on every major TV network. It’s slow at first, but soon information begins to flow alongside images of students and teachers as they evacuate the school to escape the armed individual wreaking havoc inside. Everyone scatters as they rush to safety, their arms raised to prove they’re not the threat. Practice drills could never have prepared them for the terror and carnage they’ve just witnessed.
But well before the survivors have found refuge in the arms of loved ones, and long before the casualties have been counted, lawmakers take to Twitter and Facebook to offer their thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families when, in reality, they should be apologizing for their inaction and their greed.
Mass school shootings have become almost routine in the US. We’re so desensitized now, in fact, that these tragedies often fade from the national spotlight mere days after lives are irreparably shattered. Congress and news outlets might be able to allow the memory of the given massacre to fade, but for the residents of Parkland, Fla., in this case, the wound may never fully heal.
On February 14—Valentine’s Day—Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when he ambushed students and administrators with a semi-automatic assault rifle. Despite being a day dedicated to love, this southern town will forever remember this date as one filled with death and destruction.
Now, as residents grieve those taken too soon, survivors and supporters are calling upon Congress to turn their half-hearted thoughts and prayers into common sense gun control laws in order to prevent this sort of killing spree from happening again once and for all.
Within the first 45 days of 2018 alone, the US has seen 18 school shootings — that’s an average of one attack every 60 hours, and that’s beyond unacceptable when you pause to consider that every single death or injury could’ve been avoided if only Congress valued innocent lives more than the almighty dollar. After all, we elect these lawmakers under the assumption that they’ll always have our best interests at heart, even though their personal interests are all that inevitably come into play.
Despite the public outpouring of thoughts and prayers, many GOP representatives and Congressional leaders are beholden to the National Rifle Association (NRA) because they’ve accepted millions in donations from the controversial organization over the years. Thus, while they are doling out their condolences online, they’re only thinking about how they can spin public perceptions and praying that gun control debates calm down in the coming days so they, too, can emerge from this atrocity unscathed.
Bess Kalb, writer for “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” spent the aftermath of the Parkland shooting responding to GOP tweets with the amount they’ve accepted from the NRA to date. Donations indicate the given official’s likelihood to favor less strict gun laws, as they profit from the money made off these unstable murderers. Every dollar that crosses their palm represents the blood on their hands, for every time they avoid enacting the common sense gun laws citizens so desperately desire, they become an accomplice in the murder of another innocent victim.
As Everytown’s latest commercial states: “It’s not too soon to talk about policy change. It’s too late.” Lawmakers believe pouncing on the topic of gun control so soon after a mass shooting politicizes the tragedy, but the fact that such attacks continue to happen with such frequency because of the lax laws these officials condone makes each instance inherently political. By not acting in the heat of the moment, officials allow the outrage to simmer so other issues may consume the national conversation, enabling them to dodge the issue — until the next mass shooting occurs, of course. By ignoring the huge death toll, these supposed leaders prove that they’re, in fact, being pulled around by their purse strings.
When Donald Trump took to the podium to address the Parkland massacre Thursday, he assured: “We are here for you — whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain.” He emphasized that he would work to enhance school safety and improve mental health care in America.
However, nearly one year ago this month, Trump quietly signed a bill rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. That’s right! One of his first orders as president was to essentially put guns in the hands of the mentally unstable because he, too, was swayed by the NRA. In the moment, he says one thing in an effort to placate the public, but like his colleagues, his words rarely lead to action.
Promises mean nothing if they’re empty. Thoughts and prayers are worthless when there are ways to prevent tragedies without the need for divine intervention. GOP members cannot claim they’ll be there for these survivors when they’ve proven that they don’t truly care in the past. If they did, they would have enacted stricter gun control laws after the 2012 killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. If the deaths of 20 small children couldn’t coax these supposed leaders into action, nothing ever will.
Our elected officials clearly don’t care that our nation’s children have become collateral damage in their support of the NRA. Thankfully, many of these survivors will be able to vote in the next presidential election. If Congress won’t act on their behalf to prevent future deaths, they can express their disgust at the polls, thereby dealing the blow that finally (hopefully) takes these reprehensible gun laws down for good.
(This post originally appeared on Storia.)