Congressman Says Gun Victims Don’t Need ‘Thoughts & Prayers’ But Real Action

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Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who represents Kansas City, Missouri, in the House of Representatives, condemned during an interview this week on MSNBC the approach after incidents of gun violence that relies on “thoughts and prayers” above substantial action. Cleaver was speaking after a mass shooting derailed victory celebrations following a win by the NFL team the Kansas City Chiefs at the Super Bowl last Sunday.

Cleaver’s family was present at the site, where the number shot reportedly surpassed 20. Those wounded included a large number of children.

“It made me realize even more than ever that I am a part of a body that does nothing even in the face of tragedy — nothing at all,” Cleaver told MSNBC. “Thoughts and prayers. I don’t need thoughts and prayers. Those people down there and others who will be shot in the future don’t need thoughts and prayers. They need action. And it is so troublesome and painful to me, and hopefully people around the whole country are angry that when some tragedy like this occurs, we march down to the well of the House, and somebody says we want our thoughts and prayers to go out to these people who have been shot and killed and their families and so forth. Prayer without action is just wasted words.”

In 2022, Congress approved an expansive update to the nation’s gun laws that included new federal support for the development of “red flag” laws, by which access to firearms can be blocked for individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others. Individual states have taken the lead in imposing such frameworks. The package from the federal government also added restrictions on firearm access to the consequences for misdemeanor convictions related to domestic violence against dating partners.

And those orchestrating these changes also set up a new system for background checks concurrent with prospective gun purchases that looks into potential juvenile records. Federally licensed gun dealers already are broadly under background check requirements for buyers, but the demands don’t cover other sellers. Many areas remain for additional action from the federal government.