After a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 dead and 14 more injured, many people have sent a similar message: We need more than just “thoughts and prayers.”
It’s become somewhat of a rallying cry for advocates of stricter gun laws.
Fern Malila, from Ontonagon, Michigan, made that point by sending Republican congressman Jack Bergman a worthless check of “thoughts and prayers” that was captured in a viral Facebook status. Over 65,000 people shared the post, which appears to be deleted, according to WSOCTV.
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The check also came with a letter addressed to Bergman.
“Dear Rep. Bergman,” it reads, “since you and your colleagues in Congress seem to feel that this is the solution to mass murder, please accept this contribution.”
Malila told Newsweek that she made out the check because she hears “the same arguments after each and every time this happens.”
“Each and every news media person says contact your congressman,” she said, “and Congress doesn't do anything."
After the shooting, President Donald Trump offered his “prayers and condolences” and has said the nation needs to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”
Bergman tweeted that “as a father and grandfather, the tragic news out of Florida is incomprehensible.”
Bergman was one of the congressmen that a gunman fired at during a practice for a charity baseball game in June, according to the Detroit Free Press. Six people, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise, were injured.
In the 2016 election cycle, Bergman received $4,950 from the National Rifle Association, an influential pro-gun advocacy group. The organization donated over $800,000 to Republican candidates overall during that cycle, according to OpenSecrets.
Many have voiced their concern about simply offering “thoughts and prayers” after gun violence without doing something else.
At least one person copied Malila’s novel way of sending a message.
David Hogg — a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the location of Wednesday’s mass shooting — said “what we really need is action” while appearing on CNN.
“We’re children,” he said. “You guys are the adults.”
While Emma Gonzales, a sophomore at the school, appeared at a rally in Florida and said “if all our government and president can do is send ‘thoughts and prayers,’ then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see,” according to NBC.
Their fellow students at the school also spoke out on Twitter, pushing back against the idea that teachers should be armed.
Amassing nearly half a million shares, Kim Kardashian tweeted that “we owe it to our children and our teachers to keep them safe while at school.”
“Prayers won't do this: action will,” her tweet read. “Congress, please do your job and protect Americans from senseless gun violence”
Author Stephen King was among those who joined the conversation about “thoughts and prayers,” too.
In Buffalo, New York, a nano-brewery is selling pints of “Thoughts and Prayers Ale” for just a $5 donation, according to WKBW.
The bottles are full of empty air, Community Beer Works says.
“After yet another tragic incident of gun violence and murder in our nation's public schools, many people have issued their 'thoughts and prayers' to those impacted by violence," a Facebook event from the company reads. "It's an absolute empty gesture designed to distract from the horror and terror wrought upon our children by unstable men armed with weapons of war intent on doing them harm.”
“Our schools are supposed to be places of love and trust, where our children feel safe from the realities of the world we've created for them. To that end, their thoughts and prayers are absolutely useless. We need to demand action at a local level.”