Michelle Martin

Thoughts and prayers

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

I was taking a break from wandering the streets of downtown Philadelphia, home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, when I heard about the terrorist attack in El Paso.

My son and I were on the first stop of a three-day, three-city, three-game baseball tour, an expanded version of the trips we’ve made in other summers. This time, he’ll be starting college at the end of the month. A quick train ride to Milwaukee — or even Detroit — didn’t seem like it would cut it.

I offered my thoughts and prayers, of course, because thoughts and prayers are good, even if they aren’t nearly enough.

We were on a train to Baltimore when I read about Dayton, and offered more thoughts and more prayers, and knew that it wasn’t enough. It never has been.

I don’t remember where I was when I heard about the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting, less than a week earlier, or the one before that, or the one before that.

Some I do remember, the ones that break records: For the shooting in Las Vegas, late on a Saturday night, I was home. For the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, I was at my nephew’s graduation from DePaul University.

And again my social media feed filled up with pleas for elected officials to do something, to pass laws to limit access to high-powered weapons designed to kill as many people as possible in as little time as possible.

It filled up with people expressing their heartbreak and their fear: The mother of a toddler writing about how she thought about whether the baby carrier or stroller would be better to have at the community festival, just in case they had to escape a shooting. The wife who said she told her husband to leave their son at home and turn on his phone before running errands at a big box store.

People will tell me that guns don’t kill people, people do, and that we have to change hearts and minds so this doesn’t happen. But no other country on earth suffers the amount of gun violence we have here, and they have plenty of people. What we have — and they don’t — is a nation awash in guns. People might kill people, but they kill a lot more when they are armed to the teeth.

Those who say the answer is yet more guns just aren’t paying attention. The El Paso shooting was in Texas, where there were probably dozens of shoppers carrying guns in that Walmart. In Dayton, police took down the shooter within a minute. He still killed nine people, including his sister, and injured twice as many.

Thoughts and prayers are good, but God gave us the capacity to act. I’m sure Noah prayed to survive the flood, but he also built the ark. Joseph probably prayed when he learned Jesus was in danger, but he also took his little family to Egypt to escape.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that the answer is not to do nothing.


  • gun violence
  • family life
  • mass shooting