By Paul McQuillen
I read Rep. Chris Collins’ tweet after the latest and largest (not last) mass shooting in the long history of American gun violence. Collins tweeted, “Devastated to learn about the
tragedy in Las Vegas. My thoughts and prayers and (sic) with the victims and their families.”
Well, congressman, your thoughts and prayers are not enough. They are not healing and they are not soothing.
One may ask if your thoughts and prayers are for each and every one of the 58 unsuspecting Americans who died and the more than 500 who were wounded; are there individual prayers for each of them or just a group prayer? Do you also pray for their families and loved ones who have lost and will suffer so much? Do you pray for the first responders and witnesses who pitched in to help and who will hurt as a result of the carnage they witnessed?
Do you pray as well for the more than 90 Americans who die each and every day from gun violence? Do you pray for the more than 33,000 who die annually? What about their families? How about thoughts and prayers for the more than 100,000 who are gravely injured by gunfire every year? What about their families? They suffer too!
We know how you feel when one of your own suffers the same fate. You arm up. After the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise you said, “I can assure you, from this day forward, I will be carrying when I’m out and about.” You introduced federal legislation to undo the NY SAFE Act, which helped New York attain the third-highest gun safety rating in the nation and which is supported by a wide majority of New Yorkers and a majority of upstate voters.
So here is a better idea. Why not introduce legislation permitting guns everywhere? Allow them in government buildings, into the U.S. Capitol and the Senate and House Office Buildings. And in the Supreme Court. All the places you can hide from the daily threat and promise of gun violence that the rest of us face. How about allowing guns around the Capitol grounds as you go to and from your place of security while 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds and teens run the gamut to and from school? And in their homes. How about guns in the homes of domestic abusers and terrorists?
Why bother with metal detectors and body scanners in airports and at Bills and Sabres games? Guns everywhere!
Obviously, you are not alone in this disgrace. Your complicity is shared by the entire Republican caucus and too many Democrats. But make no mistake, the blood money in your pocket from the NRA and your fealty to the organization is as complicit in those deaths as if you pulled the trigger that kills our children and grandchildren and brothers and sisters, on a daily basis.
Dante wrote, “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.” What must be reserved for those who turn a blind eye to this ongoing tragedy at a time of real moral crisis and real domestic terror?
I live in your congressional district, but you are not my representative.
Paul McQuillen is upstate coordinator of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and a member of the Stop the Violence Coalition.