Senate Chaplain Issues Pointed Plea For Action On Guns: Time To Move ‘Beyond Thoughts And Prayers’

UNITED STATES - MAY 14: Chaplain of the United States Senate Barry Black walks through the Capitol on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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Senate Chaplain Rear Admiral Barry Black (Ret.) was unusually pointed in his plea for action after yet another school shooting Monday that left both children and adults dead. 

“Lord, when babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers,” Black said Tuesday morning to open the Senate session. “Remind our lawmakers of the words of the British statesman Edmund Burke: ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.'”

“Lord deliver our senators from the paralysis of analysis that waits for the miraculous,” he added. “Use them to battle the demonic forces that seek to engulf us.” 

The few lines are imbued with subtext. He invokes “thoughts and prayers,” which has become shorthand for Republican lawmakers’ inaction in the wake of mass shootings. He cites Edmund Burke, considered to be the philosophical godfather of conservatism. 

A shooter killed three nine-year-old children and three adults Monday at The Covenant School in Tennessee, a private, Christian school for children in pre-K to sixth grade. The shooter was killed by police. Nashville Police say they’ve recovered a manifesto and a map of the school.

Calling the shooting “heartbreaking, a family’s worst nightmare,” President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban.

But such a ban is dead on arrival. Both Democrats and Republicans made clear after the shooting that more dead children have not moved the needle on even minor gun reform. Democrats, with enough Republican support to overcome the filibuster, passed a modest gun control bill in 2022 that beefed up background checks for young buyers and increased penalties for third-party gun sellers. But with Republicans in control of the House, even legislation on a similar level is certain not to pass.

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