Responding to Nashville shooting beyond ‘thoughts and prayers’


Enough with the “thoughts and prayers.” Three beautiful 9-year-olds going to school and three adults just doing their jobs are killed at their school. 

People in Israel take to the streets for days and they win. Netanyahu backs down. People in Tbisili, Georgia, take to the streets, stand up to water hoses for days and they too win. Their government backed down. 

What is wrong with us Americans? Oh, we take to the streets, have our marches for about three hours, go home and nothing changes. Most Americans want gun safety laws passed and a ban on assault weapons, but still, members of Congress ignore them. Why? They know nothing will happen to them. The gun lobby keeps them in check and helps them raise money to get re-elected. 

America, it’s time we take to the streets for however long it takes and get these laws passed. I’m begging all gun safety groups, and there are many, who have the power and know how to please organize it. We must end this gun carnage. All children’s lives are at risk.

Rose Marie Sicoli-Ostler, San Francisco

Go beyond sales ban

Another assault weapons ban would be salutary, but nowhere near enough. As with the prior ban, it would bar sales going forward but would do nothing to reduce the existing, unacceptable proliferation of these weapons.

What to do? Well, first, a ban on future sales should be accompanied by a generous buy-back program — maybe twice the value of the weapons — as a proven method to reduce the sheer numbers of these weapons of war in the hands of civilians. 

Second — and I understand this is currently way beyond the political will to do it — there must eventually be a ban on possession of these weapons outside of those who have a legitimate, military, reason to have them.

Oh, you say, the Supreme Court would never approve that? To use that as an excuse not to try is an exercise in a self-fulfilling prophecy. And dissents in the Supreme Court do, sometimes, later become majority opinions

Richard Targow, Sebastopol

Too much love for guns

Police say the shooter purchased seven guns legally, two of which were weapons of mass murder and have no other purpose. Republican-governed Tennessee predictably has virtually no gun laws. No permits, registration or background checks.

The Republican Party predictably sends its useless thoughts and prayers, claims that we need more religion in one of the most religious states and asserts that the right to own as many guns, of whatever type and killing capability desired, supersedes the rights of their fellow Americans to remain alive. 

“Thoughts and prayers” are what too many people do when they don’t want to do anything, like pass sensible gun laws, but don’t want to be called out for it. Rep. Andy Ogles, representing the Nashville area where the school is located, predictably said he was “heartbroken” by the shooting. In 2021, his Christmas card featured his entire family sporting semiautomatic weapons. The caption: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.” 

Gun advocates like Ogles claim they love children and called themselves pro-life. But, clearly, they love semiautomatic weapons and the National Rifle Association more. 

Ben Janken, Oakland

Schools no longer safe

There’s a grim reminder in the disturbing photo of the distraught young girl in the bus window accompanying your story about the Nashville school shooting. We learn about the number of dead and injured, which is bad enough. But what goes unmentioned is the number of schoolchildren who are traumatized by the incidents, possibly for life.

Schools were once safe havens for learning, exercise and fun. All that’s gone when you’re afraid every day that you may be one of the next victims.

John Wythe White, Haleiwa, Hawaii

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