Prayer is not enough

As with every issue, “The West Wing” has the perfect answer.

After the Marshall County school shooting, politicians of both parties extended their “thoughts” and “prayers.” Two children were killed and 18 wounded, and our leaders respond with typical, political clichés.

For politicians offering their prayers: save them. Even if your prayers are answered, you’re too blind to see it.

Here is what the “The West Wing” said…

In the episode “Take This Sabbath Day” (season 1, episode 14), President Bartlet’s childhood pastor tells him the story about “the man that lived by the river.”

A man lives in a town about to be flooded, and he decides to stay, pray and entrust his safety to God. He ignores a radio warning, then refuses to get in a rowboat and, finally, refuses rescue from a helicopter. He drowns. Once in heaven, he asks God: “I’m a religious man, I pray, I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?” To which God replies, “I sent you a radio report, a helicopter and a guy in a rowboat… what the hell are you doing here?”

Prayers are for victims and their families — not for solutions to shootings.

Marshall County’s shooting was the 11th school shooting in 2018 — 11 shootings on a school campus in 23 days.

I don’t care what god you pray to, but if your blind faith prohibits you from seeing the answers, your faith is worthless. Your faith in prayer alone drowned two kids from Marshall County last week.

Following the accidental shooting of a 7-year-old boy in his own kitchen last year, Gov. Matt Bevin infamously responded to gun violence in West Louisville by calling for prayer patrols. After Marshall County, Bevin tweeted, “With faith in God and with reliance on friends and family, we will get through this dark day together … ” He also called for a day of prayer.

Louisville Republican mayoral candidate and Councilwoman Angela Leet tweeted, “Continued prayers and support for all those affected by this senseless act of violence.”

Attorney General Andy Beshear tweeted, “My thoughts and prayers are with the families in Marshall County.”

Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted, “Heartbroken about the tragedy at Marshall County High School. The entire Marshall County community is in our thoughts today.”

All offering political responses. None — not a single one — demanding action.

How can the praying politicians miss the signs?

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Heath High in Paducah… What the hell are we doing here?

Fifty eight killed in Las Vegas, 49 killed in Pulse Nightclub, 25 killed in a Sutherland, Texas church, 14 killed at a San Bernadino office party, 12 killed in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater… What the hell are we doing here?

In the first 30 days of 2018, guns caused: 1,174 deaths, 22 mass shootings, 54 children 11-and-under killed or injured, 230 kids age 12 to 17 killed or injured, 22 police officers shot or killed, 151 unintentional shootings, according to Gun Violence Archive.

If you are a religious politician, how does a deranged gunman — such as Adam Lanza, who massacred 20 school children — not resonate as a sign from your God… that we must change?

The website also shows guns were used 122 times in self-defense incidents. That’s a sign, too: that we need balance.

The Gun Violence Archive also notes that the data does not account for the 22,000 annual suicides in America. This number is a sign we must address our mental health problem.

But just as there are crazy people who shouldn’t have a gun, there are bad people who shouldn’t have a gun. Prayers aren’t going to stop either.

Real leaders will explore any option, big or small, to solve a problem. Locally, Metro council members Cheri Bryant Hamilton, Brandon Coan, David James and Bill Hollander have proposed a resolution urging the General Assembly to allow local governments to regulate themselves. This is similar to state Rep. Darryl Owens’s bill last year, never taken up for a vote.

Nobody is saying this will solve the gun violence problem, or end mass shootings. But these leaders should be applauded for trying to do something, anything.

So far the only solution Bevin has offered Kentuckians for gun violence has been prayer walks. It’s only a matter of time before we’re right here, again, asking: What the hell are we doing here?