Thoughts and Prayers on Gun Control


Thoughts and Prayers is the latest game from the GOP Arcade. In the game, you have to click Prayers and Thoughts to try to help the United States deal with mass shootings. These shootings are represented by points on the map that pop up with the number of civilians killed and where the shootings took place. After a few seconds, a third button presents itself. This one reads “Ban Assault Weapon Sales”. Clicking this button does nothing, and the game tells you that this is an un-American course of action.

Of course it is a political satire game, finishable in less than five minutes. On the political spectrum it falls on the left, or liberal, side –  criticising the conservative’s attitude towards gun laws. That’s just the first layer, because beneath that it is a game that satirises the inaction of a country that faces the same tragedy on an almost weekly basis. If you remove the third button about banning assault weapons, you are left with “Thoughts” and “Prayers”. At the end of the game you are shown the results of your actions and how many lives you saved, which is always equal to 0.

This is the real criticism of the game. As much as America likes to project an image of action and gumption, to be fair it is a country which celebrates decision makers, this is a critical issue which has paralysed the nation. Yes, it is tragic, and yes, people feel sad, and that’s what the game shows you – we think and we pray, but nothing ever changes. The GOP arcade makes games that poke fun of conservatives and conservative thinking, but the critique in Thoughts and Prayers goes beyond that.

Gun control might not be the solution. Personally, I feel strongly that it isn’t. The first mass shooting in the US I was made aware of was Columbine. I was living in the US and attending school at that time. It happened on the other side of the country and although sad, didn’t feel like it could happen where I lived. The (relatively) recent Sandy Hook shooting took place in what was almost my back yard. I wasn’t living in the US at the time, but it was still unsettling because it really showed me that it can happen anywhere. Yet, for the most part, nothing has changed or even been attempted to curb this kind of violence. It is a special kind of terrorism that people refuse to acknowledge as terrorism because it blurs lines. People would no longer be able to place these conflicts as us vs. them because it is, for the most part, normal, homegrown Americans murdering other homegrown Americans going about their daily lives.

Gun control is probably not the answer. I feel the problem runs deeper, on some sort of cultural level. However, it is better than nothing. At this point, any course of action taken to prevent further mass shootings would be welcome. The lack of any coherent direction in preventing future mass shootings make it seem like no one cares. In the USA, there have been 146 mass shootings to date of this post’s publishing. (A mass shooting being where 4 or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location not including the shooter.) That is almost once a day.

If this is really how life in the USA is supposed to be, then thoughts and prayers are all they can ever hope to get.

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