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Paul’s Extra Point: Thoughts and Prayers Don’t Save Lives. Legislation Does.

The best way to honor the victims is to act.

I was sick this weekend. Which is a fitting progression, at least linguistically, if you recall the commentary I wrote after a string of mass shootings last November. Nine months ago, I sat at this desk and told you how tired I am.

Tired of gun violence, yes, but just as tired of all the trappings that come with it. The second amendment debate. Bulletproof backpacks. Seasons of grief: sowed, reaped, and planted again before one shooting even clears the news cycle. We're at a point now where the President can express condolences for two massacres in a single tweet. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

I was sick this weekend, and now I'm sick and tired. Yesterday morning, I sat on the couch for four hours in a cough medicine-induced stupor with Twitter at my fingertips and an IV of cable news stuck in my veins, morbidly fixated on my screens just like many of you. I watched as reporters and law enforcement described Hell on earth in gory detail. Politicians and pundits debated the ethics of releasing manifestos and identities of suspects, even openly suggesting a link between the White House and violence against people with a different color skin than my own.

For the first time since September 11, 2001 I felt like I was watching the end of the world. Not a literal apocalypse, but the closest thing we'll ever see outside nuclear Armageddon- the collapse of society. A fall from grace. The live, breaking, push-alerted desecration of ideals we once held in high esteem. This not who we are. Not as Americans. Not as humans.

In November, I delivered these same lines on this same show: “Has it always been like this? Or is this just some horrible nightmare that we'll eventually wake up from? How could I even think of bringing children into this world? How do you parents watching drop your kids off at daycare or at college and drive away not knowing if the life you dedicated your own to raising, nurturing, and loving will be senselessly snatched away in some random act of violence by a guy with an agenda and a gun?”

 What's different now? The names and locations change, the tragedy remains the same. The danger remains the same! A bipartisan Background Checks Act passed the House five months ago. The Senate has yet to vote on it. Sure, bump stocks are now federally illegal- but that didn't stop the El Paso shooter from claiming 20 lives with a 100-round drum magazine on an AK-47 variant.

Bad guys are always going to find a way to do bad things. No amount of regulation will ever completely prevent tragedy, but we aren't doing enough. I'm not the first to say this, but I strongly agree with the sentiment: we reached a tipping point with Sandy Hook. When we as a nation decided that killing children was okay, it was going to be very difficult to change gun laws in this country. But it's not impossible. And it's never too late.

We owe it to ourselves. We owe it our children. We owe it to the victims. Thoughts and prayers don't prevent weapons of mass destruction from stealing innocent lives. Legislation does. And I am sick and tired of waiting for it.