Republican lawmakers are pretty good about offering up thoughts and prayers - Christian of course - for the victims of mass shootings. In quick response to the latest atrocity, Outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner tweeted:
Prayers for the victims, families, students & faculty at Umpqua Community College...
After the Lafayette, LA theatre shootings where two people were killed and __— injured, Sen. David Vitter was among the several members of the Louisiana delegation offering up prayers:
"Wendy, the kids, and I certainly join so many others in our continuing love and prayers for all of those affected by this horrible and senseless violence."
After the Emanuel AME Church massacre, Jeb Bush also offered up prayers:
''Our prayers are for the community that has lost its pastor and a brave leader. May the families and the city of Charleston be lifted up by the prayers of our entire nation”
I'm certain that we can find such invocations after each and every incidence of multiple lives lost to gun violence. From the Columbine massacre through the Navy shipyard shootings, republican politicians offer expressions of their faith to the families of the victims, the survivors and their communities. While we can certainly count on such expressions, what we and those families, survivors and communities apparently cannot count on is those republican politicians actually doing anything toward limiting the potential for more shooting victims.
As they do in so many areas of American societal challenge, from poverty to violence, republican politicians are strong at expressing their faith, but pretty useless in manifesting such faith through works. Of course, the Bible talks about such faith in the Book of James. Chapter 2, verses 14-26 includes:
(v14) What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." (v18) Show me your faith without your works and I'll show you my faith by my works. (v20) But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
According to a recent article in the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/10/01/2015-274-days-294-mass-shootings-hundreds-dead/), 294 mass shootings - defined as those resulting in the death or injury of four or more persons - have occurred over the 274 days that had passed by that same point this year. While some of these shootings are included among incidents of so-called urban violence, a significant number of shootings and the victims thereof are incremental to the mass shootings recorded. Clearly, we have a problem - a huge one. We as a nation commit billions of dollars per year to the protection of citizens from terrorist attack. But as presented in a recent CNN article (http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/02/us/oregon-shooting-terrorism-gun-violence/), over nearly 3,100 people have been killed in terrorist attacks since 2001 versus over 400,000 killed by firearms during the same period. Throughout, our congresspeople have offered and still offer nothing but their thoughts and prayers for the victims.
Of course, the thoughts and prayers of everyone are both welcome and necessary. But clearly, they are far from sufficient.