Now before you get all over me, I *do* believe that sending thoughts and prayers is a good thing. It’s just not enough. And it is SO not enough when we continue to have near-daily shootings in this country and all we continue to say is, “Oh my thoughts and prayers to the victims of {insert latest shooting city here}.”

Once again on this blog, I must call bullshit.

Enough with your prayers and good thoughts. Now is the time to get down to brass tacks. It’s time to get to the real reasons why nothing is ever done in this country to combat the senseless gun fanaticism we witness on the news every night: MONEY and POWER.

The NRA has held power in this country for far too long. And thanks in large part to the savvy PR done by its most famous member – Charlton Heston – it gained a following that rivals the most dangerous of cults. (curious side note: Isn’t it interesting that Heston was embraced by the very same demographic that in no uncertain terms told the Dixie Chicks to shut up and sing? Hmm. So it’s OK for a right-wing celebrity to be the public face of the NRA and nosedive in to right-wing politics, but it’s not ok for a left-wing celebrity to state their political beliefs in a public forum?)

Let me also make a few things clear:

I am not anti-gun.

I do not own a gun, nor do I desire to own one.
However, I respect your right as an American citizen to lawfully purchase and operate one.

I am not anti- Second Amendment.

I am pro gun reform. We have a serious gun problem in this country. If you can’t see that then I have no more words for you.

I do believe that guns kill people because THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE DESIGNED TO DO. Don’t give me that bullshit line about how cars kill people too and maybe we should get rid of all cars. Cars can be used as a deadly weapon, sure. But that is not their intention. Unless you can tell me ONE other reason guns exist, your argument is flawed and ridiculous.

I am against open carry. Why? Because we live in a society of idiots. Crazed, angry, gun-toting, fear-mongering, fear-filled idiots. People are shooting (and often killing) other people for road rage, stolen purses, talking in a movie theater, working at a Waffle House, being a U.S. Senator, and for no reason at all other than being an elementary school teacher or student at Sandy Hook. Don’t tell me that if teachers had been armed there would have been less carnage. Don’t go there. Don’t Do It.

So the reason all your prayers and good wishes to the poor people in San Bernardino are useless and empty is because they are a default response. Another shooting? More prayers and good wishes. It’s like saying Bless You when someone sneezes. Do we really mean it or are we just used to saying it?

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy offered a startling tweet yesterday aimed at the hypocrisy in Washington. He says it far better than I ever could. And of course his perspective on this is closer than mine, sadly. He is the State Senator for the Sandy Hook district. His tweet is simple but direct:

Here’s a link to the full article about Senator Murphy’s tweet. Note the stark contrast between what many Republican Presidential hopefuls tweeted and what the Democratic Presidential hopefuls tweeted.

Back to the NRA for a second. Yesterday, a journalist tweeted the NRA contributions politicians (mostly Republican) accepted during recent campaigns. The amounts are astonishing. Money truly does talk. Curious? Check out this dude’s Twitter feed. Mind-blowing.

So. Your thoughts and prayers are lovely. Needed, in fact. But they aren’t effective. They aren’t action-oriented. Until there is major change in the form of dismantling the powerful influence and corruption of the NRA along with major gun reform, we will continue to see more and more mass shootings.

So what can you do? You can sign this petition demanding Congress end its 20-year ban on gun violence research.

You can find out the voting records of your state and local representatives and then let them know whether you support or disagree with their positions.

Educate yourself. That’s my goal every day. Learn more, know more, think more so I can do better, vote better (and smarter), and teach my kids better.

And finally, you can VOTE. For the love of God, vote. I am a registered Democrat, but I take pride in knowing I educate myself on the candidates and their positions on issues that matter the most to me. Not registered? GO REGISTER. It’s quick and it’s easy. And then go vote. Not just in the national elections, but in the smaller, local elections. This is where real change happens.

I am leaning very much into the idea of becoming a single issue voter and you know what? This is the issue.