Letter to the editor: Thoughts and prayers are not enough


To the editor:

It has happened again — another mass shooting with an assault rifle.

The families of children at the Parkland, Fla., high school join in mourning the deaths of their children along with the families at Sandy Hooke Elementary School, Aztec High School and too many others.

There has been 18 school shootings already in 2018.

It does not matter whether the shootings are associated with concert goers in Las Vegas, nightclub dancers in Orlando or students at Columbine High School, something needs to be done.

It is not enough to send condolences, offer thoughts and prayers and fly flags at half-staff for the bereaved families.

Congress needs to act to address this problem of mass murder with guns. I am not suggesting a repeal of the Second Amendment, but many things can be done to reduce gun violence.

The perpetrators of these mass shootings will be punished in courts of law. How will the NRA and the gun lobby be punished for their hubristic attitude? How will the court of public opinion punish lawmakers, especially Republicans, for their inaction to protect the public and school children from these mass shootings?

Congress and our elected officials need to stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby and represent the citizens of the United States. Eighty-four percent of Iowans want stronger gun regulations that would help put an end to the carnage caused by guns.

Write your elected officials, and ask them to pass legislation that will help solve this gun problem — it is not just a mental health issue — and stop the waste of human life by these senseless mass shootings.

Ray Harden


  1. Last I heard the carnage was caused by a 19-year-old male named Nikolas Cruz. Guns are inanimate objects and cannot cause carnage. Flawed human beings cause carnage. Gun regulations are already on the books and do not solve the root causes of these problems. If Nikolas Cruz did not have access to a big gun, he would find access to a smaller gun or basic bomb-making materials or fire-starting materials and the list goes on.

    Blaming the NRA or the FBI is as ridiculous as blaming the car manufacturer or the mayor of Charlottesville for the guy who drove a car into a Charlottesville rally in Virginia last summer. It’s as ridiculous as blaming McDonalds for making hot coffee that you spilled on your lap, causing burns on your skin as you drove away from the drive-through window. This type of blame is complete nonsense and only serves as a feel-good band-aid for much deeper problems.

    This idea that government can somehow save us from ourselves and others or that “We the people” can somehow regulate ourselves into utopian bliss is completely and utterly irrational and DOES NOT WORK. It actually causes more serious, liberty-stealing problems. And calling some outside group arrogant when that group has nothing to do with the root causes of Nikolas’ behaviors does not solve the problem.

    One last item of truth. Of those 18 school shootings, how many were situations where a person entered campus with an intention of killing students and/or teachers? The answer is about 6 or 7. The others could have been something as simple as a gun discharging off-campus somewhere and the bullet hit a building or wall or structure on campus. It could have been a third-grader pulling the trigger of a policeman’s gun as he sat on a school bench. Luckily, no one was hurt. Incidents like this are included in the so-called 18 school shootings. The “18 school shootings this year” is another example of people trying to get the biggest scare possible out of the general public in order to further another progressive cause. It’s a tactic to make us think there have been 18 separate Sandy Hook-like incidents.

    Stay focused on the perpetrator and why he acts the way he does, why he thinks the way he does, why he behaves the way he does. Stay focused on the root causes of humanity’s troubles.

    Jesus Christ is the only One who can heal flawed human beings. God is the only One who can save you. Jesus Christ is the only One who can change the human heart. Jesus Christ is the only One who can set Nikolas free. Of course, that requires one of us to talk to him first and tell him about Him.

  2. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Sean Brix, you haven’t said anything I haven’t already heard about gun control in the last 50 years. Your kind of arguments would get you laughed at by everyone from lawyers to high school debate squads. Sean, there’s nothing there. You’ve said nothing. The rules of rhetoric are simple. Ray expressed an opinion. His thoughts are not up for debate as he didn’t say anything much demanding evidence or documentation. Ray didn’t go any further than expressing his feelings and making suggestions. His letter was concise and well written. On the other hand, you made a statement, a claim, but you presented no proof, evidence or documentation. Your missive is nothing more or less than a War And Peace-length rambling of emotion, half-truth and conjecture. This might play well to those sympathetic to your point of view or the under-educated, but it doesn’t fly with the big kids. You made a statement. You did not express an opinion. You made a statement. That being the case, where is your documentation? Who are and where do your sources come from? What evidence do you have? Are you able to separate quantifiable data from your faith-based convictions? No one is questioning your right to have those convictions. Ray has his, too. So do I. He expressed his without having to cast aspersions on the beliefs and the character of others. You were a bit more extravagant with your adjectives. You might want to look at that. Expressing an opinion is fine. Making statements and claims without proof isn’t. You could have spared yourself and everyone else the time and trouble if you would have just cut to your last paragraph. I don’t agree with it either, but that’s just my opinion.

  3. I made many statements, Nick. They all derive from wisdom, logic and rational thought.

    “We cannot regulate ourselves into a utopian bliss.” That’s a statement based on wisdom, logic and rational thought and knowledge of human history. Gun laws have been passed since at least 1837 in the United States and hundreds more since then. (Since we all have access to Google, you can look up quantifiable data on that yourself.) We will never be a utopia. That is a progressive fantasy.

    “We are all flawed human beings.” That’s not just based on wisdom, logic and rational thought. That’s a fact. (When you find me a perfect human being, let me know.)

    “Flawed human beings cause carnage.” Another fact.

    “Guns are inanimate objects and do not cause carnage.” Another fact.

    “Of the 18 school shootings in 2018, about 6 or 7 were incidents where the intent was/may have been to kill students and/or teachers.” Another fact. An argument could be made that there have been 8, but it all depends on the details of the incident. One person might call an incident a school shooting, but the intent to kill students and/or teachers is sometimes debatable depending on the incident. You can research it yourself.

    The “18 school shootings” is a phrase derived from the web site Everytown for Gun Safety and, yes, Nick, Everytown counts “incidents of fatal and nonfatal assaults, suicides and UNINTENTIONAL SHOOTINGS” as “school shootings.” Unfortunately, today’s less-than-accountable news organizations then hijack the “18 school shootings” phrase for extra drama in order to get maximum emotion extracted from their potential viewers. There’s your source.

    Everytown’s first school shooting incident of 2018 involved a military veteran suffering from PTSD who killed himself in the parking lot of East Olive Elementary in Pottersville, Mich., on Jan. 3. East Olive Elementary had been closed since June of 2016. No students or teachers were there. But Everytown counts it as a school shooting in 2018. “Thoughts and prayers are not enough” comes directly from the Everytown web site, which leads me to think that Ray had likely been on that web site before he wrote his letter. You can research it yourself.

    I witnessed my mother’s life change in an instant when she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior in the early ’90s. I witnessed my brother’s life change in an instant for the same reason about seven years ago. I witnessed my other brother’s life change in an instant for the same reason in 2010. I witnessed a sister-in-law’s life change for the same reason in 2010. I’ve witnessed about 50 peoples’ lives change for the same reason in Ames just in the last eight years. I fellowship with another 200 people in Ames who have been changed by Jesus Christ, some of them professors and scientists employed by Iowa State University. My life changed in an instant in 1984.

    I know of many former non-believing atheists and non-believing evolutionists and scientists in every scientific field who, after discovering the saving faith of Jesus Christ, have completely rejected the fallacy of atheism and evolution. I know of prisoners and people who have suffered tremendously whose lives changed after accepting Jesus Christ. These are all quantifiable and verifiable FACTS.

    Two things I have never witnessed:
    1. A person who came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ whose life changed in an instant when they “discovered” atheism or evolution or humanism or Darwinism.

    2. A person who has suffered immeasurably whether in prison or some other horrendous circumstance whose life changed in an instant when they discovered atheism or evolution or humanism or Darwinism.

    And to Ray, I apologize if it seemed I was attacking you in any way. That was not my intention. I was only attacking the gun control idea . . . with wisdom, logic and rational thought.

  4. Sean, first off, the “utopian bliss” comment is built on a faulty premise. No one out of any political or philosophical persuasion believes anything like a utopia is remotely possible, including the man first known for coining the term, Sir Thomas Moore, also known as Saint Thomas Moore. The term in your case is hyperbole and likely derived from one conservative media pundit or the other. That shifts that paragraph into the irrelevant column. Besides, progressive is too much a very broad brush to paint with. It can include anyone to the immediate left of your persuasion to an outright Stalinist or Maoist. Please be more specific.
    Flawed human beings? I don’t believe in original sin or human imperfection. Let’s just say some people are certainly more dysfunctional than others. Restricting or regulating the ownership and availability of high power, semiautomatic ordinance would not necessarily prohibit the latter from possessing AR 15s and the like but would serve as to not make butchery too easy a task for the former.
    Let me think. So if guns don’t kill people but people do, does it follow that neither methamphetamine or heroin kill people but that people addict and kill themselves? Hmnn? You might want to rethink that old tired expression you used.
    Your Everytown reference is duly noted but I fail to see how it supports or detracts from your argument. Please explain precisely the conclusion you draw from it and the logic you used to do so. I don’t see either.
    The rest of your response is anecdotal at best. It goes back to what I said about being able to separate faith-based conclusions from hard and quantifiable data. You must accept the fact many of us are not evangelicals, Biblical literalists or Christian in any way, shape or form, nor are we likely to be so. In fact, everything you wrote from your mother’s conversion on down is absolutely irrelevant to the issue of gun violence as far as non-believers are concerned. Like my junior high science teacher used to ask almost 50 years ago, “Just what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?”

  5. [As a rule, ThePerryNews.com only approves comments that include the commentator’s full name and a valid email address. Kindly use your full name in future comments. –Ed.] Question to a reader: Would the U.S. government ever take away its citizens’ inalienable rights? Said another way: Would the U.S. government take away citizens’ rights when said rights, being inalienable, cannot (read: “should not”) be taken away? What makes rights “inalienable”? It is long past time for each citizen to be accountable and stop asking government to do what it was never intended to do.

  6. Cliff, please explain just how your comments pertain to the subject being discussed. Non-specified yet inalienable rights as well as citizen accountability and the due functions of government are of themselves different and separate subjects from the topic of gun violence. If they are relevant to the ongoing exchange here, please be kind of enough to tie them in clearly. You have not. If your identity is a mystery, at least don’t let your point be one as well. It’s not that one can’t reasonably assume where you’re going with this, but I would make a couple of suggestions. First off, please dispel all ambiguity here, and let us know for sure where you’re going with this. Secondly, what I am assuming (we know what that’s worth) you really want to discuss merits its own editorial and following discussion. I encourage you to submit your letter to the editor for consideration.

  7. Nick, the more you get to know Jesus Christ, the more you understand the connections. This must be written because you insinuate that there is absolutely no factual data to verify what you call “faith-based convictions.”

    John 10:14-18…
    I am the good shepherd, and I KNOW My own and My own KNOW Me, even as the Father KNOWS Me and I KNOW the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.

    John 10:24-30…
    The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I KNOW them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

    You may say, “But I don’t believe Jesus Christ is God or has any power.”
    If Jesus Christ is not God, how do you explain…
    **The Resurrection…the empty tomb?
    **The many, many, many recorded miracles of the past and the present?
    **The testimony of approximately 2 billion witnesses on this planet? (At some point, you must admit it is no longer anecdotal, but beyond a reasonable doubt.)

    You may say, “But I don’t believe the Resurrection happened.”
    If the Resurrection did not happen…
    **Where is the body? (Answer: It isn’t here. It’s alive with the Father. The Jews of the time would have done everything in their power to squelch the Resurrection once and for all by producing the body. The Jews could not stand the disciples and new believers of that time who continued to profess Jesus Christ after the Resurrection occurred. To the Jews, it was continued blasphemy and had to be stomped out. Produce the body and Christianity ends. They could not. The Romans of the time would have done everything in their power to find the body to put down the civilian conflicts between the Jews and the Christian believers of that time. The Roman governor of that area- Pontius Pilate- would have done anything to eliminate this conflict. The Roman emperor was letting Pontius know that he was tiring of the problems in Jerusalem. If Pilate and the Romans produce the body, these problems stop. But the Romans could not. The body was resurrected. Roman guards sealed the tomb & had guarded it for three days. Yet the body was gone on the third day.)

    If the Resurrection did not happen and Jesus Christ has no power, how do you explain…
    **Jesus’ disciples transforming from scared cowards before, during and immediately after the Crucifixion to bold men and women willing to die horrible, tortuous deaths rather than deny Christ? (Answer: They saw and interacted with the Resurrected Christ and experienced the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God manifested in three distinct relationships.)
    **How do you explain new believers numbering in the many thousands the 300 years following the Resurrection suddenly willing to suffer through torture and ridicule or die horrible, tortuous deaths rather than deny Christ? (Answer: Some saw and interacted with the Resurrected Christ before He ascended, and they experienced the power of the Holy Spirit; others simply experienced the power of the Holy Spirit after the Ascension.)

    If the Resurrection did not happen and was just a made up story, how do you explain…
    **The authors of that time using women as the first eye witnesses of the Resurrected Christ? No author trying to convince the non-believers of that time of a sham would have used women as the first eye witnesses. In those times, a woman’s testimony was not even allowed in court. Why use a woman’s testimony? (Answer: Jesus had special respect for these women when He walked the earth and honored them as the first eyewitnesses. The Gospel writers, under the power of the Holy Spirit, had no choice but to tell the truth about what happened and how it transpired, even if it meant that non-believing secularists of that time would not take a woman’s eyewitness testimony seriously.)

    If the Resurrection did not happen, how do you explain…
    **The changed life of Jesus’ brother, James? James was openly skeptical that Jesus was the Messiah (the Christ), yet he later became the courageous leader of the Jerusalem church, even being stoned to death for his faith. Why? (Answer: He was a born-again believer forever changed by the Holy Spirit.)

    If the Resurrection did not happen, how do you explain…
    **The conversion of Paul? Before Paul saw Christ, he was spending all of his time after the Crucifixion rounding up Christian believers for persecution and/or execution. He was fully Jewish and followed Judaism. He had no Jewish enemies. Yet, in a flash, he suddenly decided to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    He endured five floggings but would not deny Christ.

    He endured three beatings but would not deny Christ.

    He endured three shipwrecks but would not stop spreading the Gospel.

    He endured a stoning, but would not deny Christ.

    He endured poverty and ridicule but would not deny Christ.

    Finally, the Roman emperor Nero had Paul beheaded because he would not deny his faith in Christ. This, after being fully Jewish and in the good graces of the Jewish and Roman leaders beforehand. He could have lived a long, fairly comfortable life. What changed? (Answer: He saw the Resurrected Christ on the Damascus road and became a born again believer, forever changed by the Holy Spirit.)

    If the Resurrection did not happen, how do you explain…
    **The conversion of 2.2 billion people and counting? If this is a farce; a sham; not real; what is the deal with us 2.2 billion Christians? (Answer: We have experienced the power of Jesus Christ through the born-again experience of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God—the Bible.)

    John 3:1-3…
    Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

    1 Peter 1:3-5; 8-9…
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time… …and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

    It’s quite obvious that this is more than anecdotal. This is beyond a reasonable doubt. Faith is now joined by wisdom, logic and rational thought. It was people who believed like this that set the foundations of this country and created a Constitution like no other Constitution had ever been created before–with INALIENABLE rights; you are correct Cliff–and like so many Constitutions have been attempted since in other countries.

    However, just because you know OF the Lord, does not mean you KNOW the Lord.
    Matthew 7:21-23…
    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never KNEW you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ ”

    I wish Nikolas had truly KNOWN Jesus Christ a long time ago. If he had, this would not have happened. And the greater the number of people who know Him from here on out, the better off our country will be and the less gun violence you will see, whether you believe or not.

    As far as the drug analogy, that does not work. The drug did not kill them. The USE of the drug killed them. The gun did not kill the students and teachers. The USE of the gun killed the students and teachers. Yes, you are comparing people who kill THEMSELVES to people who kill OTHER PEOPLE. They may not intend to kill themselves; nonetheless, yes, they still killed themselves by USING the drug.

    I apologize for the length of this, but it is ALL so important.

  8. Sean, I didn’t even bother to read it. How many times must I tell you I’m just not interested? How many times must you be told your religious beliefs do not mean one iota to me in the context of this ongoing discussion? Dude, just cease with the proselytizing. I’m a former fundamentalist that broke his programming. I detest fire-insurance religion more than you can ever imagine. I consider it one of the most hideous forms of mind control ever devised. I’d really rather not devote 17 hours to writing a rebuttal half the county would cringe over. Please, Sean. What part of NO do you not understand? No. Just no.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.