Democrats Discuss: Thoughts and prayers are easier than gun control for GOP

Four hundred.

That’s how many people have been shot in the 200 school shootings that have occurred since Sandy Hook.

On Feb. 14, Marjory Stoneman Douglas became the latest, and the deadliest, site of seven school shootings this year, resulting in the deaths of 17 people.

Republicans’ response? They offered their thoughts and prayers, of course.

Elected officials ranging from Sen. Rob Portman to Rep. Steve Stivers seem able to offer only positive thinking and prayers instead of comprehensive solutions to the issue of gun violence in this country. If they cannot put forth answers to the problem, then maybe it is finally time to vote them out.

But in their place, we cannot afford to continue to support these pro-gun politicians who favor guns over human lives. This standard should also extend to Democrats. In the 2018 gubernatorial primary, four Democratic candidates are running. One of them has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund — and he’s leading in the polls.

In January, the 1984 Society conducted a poll that showed former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray leading by seven points. Unsurprising to many who have followed the race, Cordray’s lead seemed natural. He has statewide name recognition, experience fighting for consumers and the nationwide support from people such as former President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But after the Stoneman Douglas shooting, Cordray’s history with guns resurfaced and has left many questioning whether they could support a candidate with such a strong pro-gun stance. The answer is simple: They shouldn’t.

The Buckeye Firearms Association endorsed Cordray in his race for Ohio Attorney General in 2010 over Mike DeWine, citing Cordray’s support for concealed carry reciprocity agreements and his filings in his first term as AG to protect Second Amendment rights. That was contrasted with DeWine’s status as one of the “Top 10 Anti-Gun Senators,” the only Republican to have made the list.

On Feb. 19, Cordray posted his solutions to gun violence in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, specifically advocating for the ban of bump stocks, increased security in schools and a crackdown on illegal gun trafficking. Yet, the majority of his vague statement closely resembled remarks from those Republican officials currently being scolded for their inadequate responses; and on the topic of AR-15s amidst demands to ban them, his post was oddly silent.

How can we in good conscience support a candidate with an “A” rating from the NRA and endorsements from the same pro-gun groups who want nothing done in response to these mass shootings? How can Democrats criticize Republicans for their simple “thoughts and prayers” answer and then prop up a candidate who will give us more of the same?

Cordray’s solution to gun violence is nothing but the same type of vague political rhetoric spewed by Republicans to avoid stepping on the toes of their donors and pro-gun constituents who decide the fate of their elections. Though talk of stepping up security in schools and cracking down on illegal trafficking of guns could be a temporary solution, this distracts from the real, long-term reform that we need.

It is time for Democrats to stand strong on common sense gun control. If Cordray isn’t prepared to step up to the plate, then perhaps he doesn’t deserve our votes this spring.

This article originally appeared in The Post (thepostathens.com). Ashley Fishwick is a senior studying English pre-law and political science at Ohio University. 

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