17 Dec Some Thoughts (and Prayers) on the Anniversary Week of Sandy Hook
By Justin Jones
Three years ago this week, an unstable young man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and gunned down 20 young children and six teachers and school personnel. It was an event that shocked the conscience of a country that had become accustomed to gun violence.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Nevada’s elected officials came together to offer their thoughts and prayers for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Governor Brian Sandoval extended “thoughts, prayers and our deepest sympathies to these parents, to the victims of today’s horrible tragedy.” Senator Dean Heller said: “Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with all those who are grieving in the wake of this truly horrific event.” Senator Harry Reid likewise offered his “thoughts” for those suffering as a result of the tragedy.
Since Sandy Hook, it has become almost rote for Nevada’s elected officials to offer their “thoughts and prayers” to victims and their families each time there is another tragic mass shooting. For example, Governor Sandoval offered “prayers and condolences” to victims of the recent San Bernardino massacre. Senator Heller offered his “thoughts and prayers” when a man gunned down nine people at an Oregon college in October. Congressman Mark Amodei offers “thoughts and prayers” to victims of gun violence (while touting support for the Second Amendment).
Thoughts and prayers may provide temporary solace to the victims of today’s tragedy, but they do nothing to prevent the next tragedy. Action must follow the thoughts and prayers for the thoughts and prayers to have meaning.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Senator Reid used his position as Majority Leader to press for strengthened background checks for gun purchases. Democratic leaders in the Nevada Legislature pushed for universal background checks and to strengthen background check reporting. These efforts, however, were stymied by the very same leaders who offer hollow “thoughts and prayers” to victims. Senator Heller voted against a bipartisan, compromise gun background check bill, dooming it to failure. Congressman Cresent Hardy and State Senate Majority Leader and congressional candidate Michael Roberson voted to weaken gun laws in the Nevada Legislature. Governor Sandoval, known for his common sense solutions to many of Nevada’s problems, vetoed common sense legislation to strengthen gun laws supported by more than 80 percent of Nevadans.
On the anniversary week of this terrible event, we will all keep the survivors and family members of victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy in our thoughts and prayers. But we will also demand that action accompany those thoughts and prayers. Honor the victims and their families today, and every day, by asking your elected leaders to support common sense legislation to curb gun violence.