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The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

KC native rebuffs calls for thoughts and prayers amid shooting

Celebrations in Kansas City for the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win abruptly shifted to mourning after a shooting resulted in the death of at least two people. Photo by Stefan Müler via Flickr

After the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015, the victory parade in Kansas City was a big deal. Kansas City had been in a dry spell of winning sports, and this was the first time in a while that the city had hosted an event similar to the parade. I remember distinctly how excited everyone was after the city made it through the entire day without violence during the parade and no event-related arrests. 

Flash forward to 2024 and the shooting following the Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade in downtown Kansas City. After the initial shock of the tragedy and texting everyone who I knew was at the parade to make sure they were okay, the thought that played through my mind the next day was, “I can’t believe this didn’t happen sooner.” 

Living in Kansas City, especially in recent years, gun violence is something that is constantly on my radar. According to ABC News, in 2023, Kansas City’s Police Department’s daily homicide analysis showed 182 homicides, which was an increase from the previous year and three more than the previous all-time high of 179 homicides in 2020. Additionally, in 2021, Missouri had the ninth-highest rate of gun deaths in the United States. 

The shooting at the Chiefs’ parade is shocking due to how public it was, that it occurred during what was supposed to be a celebratory event and because of how many children were harmed in the tragedy. Due to these factors and its relevance to the national sports community, this shooting has distinctly caught people’s attention. But it should not have taken a tragedy of this magnitude for people to speak out against gun violence in Kansas City and across the U.S.

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Living in a country where gun control is almost non-existent, civilians can carry military-grade weapons and mass shootings are becoming more and more commonplace, the initial response online to tragedy is “thoughts and prayers.” Scrolling through Twitter or Instagram after a tragedy such as this one, every other post is, “thoughts and prayers for Kansas City.” 

We are at a point where thoughts and prayers are not enough. Reposting something on social media is not enough. We need action and activism from the politicians and celebrities who claim to care online but do not do anything tangible behind the scenes to back this up. 

This is also true at the individual level. Following the shooting, I saw multiple people I know who have ignored gun control issues, do not vote in local elections or have even actively spoken against gun control repost graphics or news headlines about the shooting, often accompanied by broken heart emojis, crying emojis or that same “thoughts and prayers” caption. These posts feel shallow because the large majority of the people posting them don’t actually do anything tangible about the issue when they have the opportunity to. 

Awareness is important, and social media is a great tool to spread awareness about tragedies and movements such as these. Additionally, everyone handles trauma and shock differently, and I acknowledge that these posts might help people feel empowered and like they are having a more immediate effect on the violence in their communities. I’m not saying that these posts are inherently bad or worthless. They just need to be followed by tangible action. Without this follow-through, these posts are merely performative and less effective than they could be. 

It should not take a tragedy on this scale to get people’s attention. Children should not be living in fear of being shot at school or at parades in the first place. Now that this tragedy has caught people’s attention, surface-level action is not enough. Real, tangible action has to be taken, and people have to use their voices beyond Instagram to make change. This should never have happened in the first place, and it should never happen again. 

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