Prayer without action will not protect our children

Over the past week, not only has our state seen the conclusion of the 2nd Session of Oklahoma’s 58th Legislature, but I have had the pleasure of serving as a Congressman for the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church.

I want to thank everyone who came together for both events for continuing their respective work in our state.

At Wednesday morning’s conference, we sat in prayer for the state of our nation following the tragic news from Uvalde, Texas – another school shooting that killed both students and teachers in primary. I started thinking about plans to act on so many issues, even beyond the mass school shootings – plans that we have implemented and plans that we don’t.

It’s hard to believe a decade has passed since the Sandy Hook school shooting, where a mentally ill 20-year-old rampaged through an elementary school, executing children after killing his son. mother. Now, in Uvalde, an 18-year-old who lived with his grandmother, his first victim of the day, has made his way virtually unchallenged into a grade 4 class at a primary school. This followed the recent mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, perpetrated by an 18-year-old racist, and another mass shooting over the weekend in Taft, Oklahoma.

Predictably, the reaction to these shootings was mixed. Some called for prayer, others demanded action. Yet others proclaimed that now was not the time to discuss solutions they deemed political. Many have demanded gun restrictions – which I doubt will happen in our country.

I welcome the discussion because it is always the time to discuss the protection of our children. We must find solutions to reduce violence in our country. In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, I convened a statewide gathering of school officials and lawmakers to seek answers. I felt the discussion was a good start; even so, nothing came as a result.

I proposed a $500 million statewide bond issue to build safer, fortified schools to protect against tornadoes and active shooters; it was never considered. Other than some states increasing much-needed mental health funding, nothing has happened to protect schools other than arming some teachers.

If now is not the time for adults to discuss solutions, then when? The ubiquitous calls to “think and pray” almost became a Pavlovian response after every shooting. Prayer is always appropriate, but as one rabbi said, “praying after the fact for something avoidable is an affront to God and to humanity.”

We need to engage with young people in our local communities. It’s the solution to so many problems – from broken homes to substance abuse to abuse and neglect – in addition to senseless violence. The first step in implementing change is to get involved in the lives of young people. Start there and encourage policy makers to have an honest discussion about reducing youth trauma and resulting violence.

Finally, for those praying for a solution, don’t expect God to fix this alone. My faith encourages believers to be agents of change and to ask for the strength to act for change. I believe that God wants us to be his agents for the betterment in this world.

OICA gave us trigger locks through a grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation to help keep kids safe. If you want one or more, do not hesitate to contact us.

Do not expect others to simply wake up to the issues facing our state and our nation. Actions will inspire those around you to act as well. I promise to do more in the future, and I hope you will too.

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