Thoughts and prayers are not enough -- Congress can and must take action —
December 11, 2018

Thoughts and prayers are not enough — Congress can and must take action

By Rep. Lloyd Doggett

PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Parkland, Florida school massacre marks the 30th mass shooting in 2018 and the 376th mass shooting since the beginning of 2017. In the past 5 months, 3 of the 10 deadliest shootings in U.S. history have occurred, including in Sutherland Springs.

As a lifelong Texan, I grew up around guns and hunting. But a military style assault rifle is not for hunting, it is for killing other people. And tragically that has been the instrument of death in Parkland, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas and elsewhere. We need to restore the ban on these weapons of war that once existed.

We all pray for those that have lost loved ones, but we need more than the regular response of “thoughts and prayers.” These precious lives are being ignored by Congress. Too many officials are indebted to the NRA, giving it control over the White House, Congress and Texas Legislature lock, stock and barrel.

Some lawmakers want to give up and, as a last resort, arm teachers. This is simply a distraction and a way for these elected officials to shirk their own responsibility to prevent gun violence. Teachers should not be focused on shooting people, they should be focused on teaching our young people to help fulfill their potential.

Parkland is not the first community to have to endure such a tragedy caused by gun violence. Unless action is taken, tragically, it won’t be the last. That is the resounding truth being heard across our nation thanks to the fearless courage of the students who are speaking out and demanding change.

We see this locally, thanks to the tireless work of Moms Demand Action and Texas Gun Sense. While there is no single or easy solution, it is long past time to take the first steps. Here is where I think Congress should start:

  • Reinstate the ban on assault weapons.
  • Institute universal background checks and close loopholes that let too many people slip through the cracks and legally purchase firearms despite being a threat to themselves or others.
  • No weapons for suspected terrorists, domestic abusers, or individuals convicted of hate crimes.
  • Institute a Gun Violence Restraining Order that allows law enforcement to confiscate weapons for dangerous individuals.
  • Ban high-capacity magazines and outlaw devices like bump stocks that make weapons more deadly.
  • Lift the ban on CDC research into the impact of gun violence on public health.

These are common-sense gun safety solutions to help reduce gun violence in our communities, including accidents, suicides, domestic violence, mass shootings, and acts of terrorism. Most of these reforms are supported by a majority of Americans, not just Democrats or Republicans, but all Americans. Protecting children in schools, worshipers in church, folks at a night club or concert is not an issue of right versus left. It’s right versus wrong.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett

No one should have to worry about the safety of their loved ones. While there is no panacea for gun violence, we can take positive steps to prevent more tragedies, more pain and more grief.  Let’s work together to enact reasonable reforms so no one else suffers. And if this Congress will not act, we must get one that will.

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