On Oct. 1, Stephen Paddock, 64, injured over 500 and killed 58 people in Las Vegas. On Oct. 2, politicians and celebrities alike tweeted their “thoughts and prayers” for the victims.
After terrorist attacks, like the Las Vegas shooting, or natural disasters, like Hurricane Harvey, many people tweet out, or make statements, expressing their thoughts and prayers to the victims.
Sending thoughts and prayers to victims after a dreadful event is a kind sentiment. It lets victims know that people are thinking of them and that they are not alone.
That said, tweeting out only your “thoughts and prayers” does nothing to help the victims of any incident unless that statement is backed up by action.
When it comes to mass shootings and other disasters, those thoughts and prayers are not enough.
Mark Kelly, retired astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, said in a statement on Capitol Hill that, “Thoughts and prayers are important. We send our thoughts and prayers, too. But they are not enough. Your thoughts and prayers aren’t going to stop the next shooting. Only action and leadership will do that.”
That statement was given the day after the Las Vegas shooting while many people were in shock and mourning.
Giffords was shot in 2011 during a constituent meeting in Casas Adobes, Arizona. Since then, Kelly and Giffords have pressed for stricter gun laws.
In 2012, one of the deadliest mass shootings at the time took place when Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7, as well as six staff members. That shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
On Oct. 2, Danielle Vabner, the older sister of one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, said she was “horrified. Angry. Devastated. Heart-broken. We need to talk about this today. We cannot allow this to continue or become the norm.”
Vabner also added that, “Thoughts and prayers mean nothing without action.”
Sending out thoughts and prayers were given a new meaning on Nov. 5, when Devin P. Kelley opened fire at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas during their service. He killed 26 people and injured 20 more. The ages of those killed ranged from 17 months to 72 years old.
With news of this latest tragedy, many were angered by the fact that people were still just tweeting thoughts and prayers out to the victims. A mass shooting just occurred and nothing had been done in terms of gun control.
Two of the five deadliest shootings in America happened in the last 36 days according to CNN.
Only thoughts and prayers have been given after these shootings. Nothing has been done to prevent the next one and the sad truth is, there will likely be a next one.
Trump said that the shooting in Texas was not a gun issue but a mental health issue. That was in striking contrast to how he reacted to the New York City terror attack when he called for harsher punishments and immediately step up the “extreme vetting program.”
Society needs to move away from tweeting out support for people and letting that be all that is done. Sending out support, prayers and thoughts is great and should not stop, but those sentiments need to be backed up by action.
Politicians especially need to back up what they say when they say “thoughts and prayers.” Since the Sandy Hook mass shooting, Congress has passed no new gun laws according to an article by Public Radio International from May.
Until thoughts and prayers are backed up by action from politicians, celebrities and people alike, they will not do anything to stop the next bad event.
Moss Brennan is a freshman journalism major from Durham, North Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter at @mosbren