For Gun Victims, the Prayers of Conservative Politicians Are Not Enough

After the latest mass shooting by an anti-tax, anti-government, anti-feminist arch-conservative in Lafayette, LA, the reactions from Republican politicians were as predictable as they were empty and stale. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal had the usual reaction:

Frankly, that reaction is getting more than a little tiresome no matter what one’s religious beliefs might be. When terrorists used airplanes as missiles against the United States in 2001, we didn’t just pray for the victims: we changed our entire airline security system, spent billions on a new homeland security bureaucracy, and invaded not one but two countries at gigantic cost to life and treasure. When the ebola virus threatened to break out in the United States we didn’t pray for deliverance from the plague; we went into a collective public policy and media frenzy to stop it from spreading further. When earthquakes prove our building standards are inadequate to save lives, we don’t beg the gods to avert catastrophe and pray for the victims; we spend inordinate amounts of money to retrofit so it doesn’t happen again.

On every major piece of public policy in which lives are taken needlessly, we don’t limit ourselves to empty prayers for the victims. We actually do something to stop it from happening again.

But not when it comes to gun proliferation. On that issue we are told that nothing can be done, and that all we can do is mourn and pray for the murdered and wounded, even as we watch the news every day for our next opportunity to grieve and mourn and pray again–all while sitting back and watching helplessly.

For most of us, prayer and good vibes are all we can provide. It’s not in our power to prevent the next deranged killer for gaining access to a deadly weapon of mass violence. But politicians should be held to a higher standard. They do have the power to act. For them, prayers are empty and basically meaningless compared to the power they refuse to wield to actually solve the problem.

No longer should we accept the facade of devotional compassion Bobby Jindal and his friends use to mask their indifferent obedience to the NRA and its rabid voters. If they refuse to act, their prayers don’t mean a thing.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.