Senate Chaplain the Rev. Barry Black called for action after a mass school shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School left six dead, including three students, in Tennessee on March 27.
“I have been hearing, ‘You have my thoughts and prayers,’ and that is valid for any person, again, who has been told ‘pray without ceasing.’ But I also know that there comes a time when action is required,” Black said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Black’s comments come after a wave of calls by Democrats to reintroduce gun safety legislation following the Covenant School shooting in which 28-year-old shooter Audrey Hale killed three adults and three 9-year-old children before being shot dead by police.
Black said he always strives to be “in a spirit of prayer,” continuing on to say that the “tipping point” for him was that the shooting took place in a church school.
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“It just was the tipping point for me to see 9-year-olds dying in a place that should have been a city of refuge, in a place that was preparing them not just for time but for eternity,” Black said.
Black, who has served as Senate chaplain since 2003, did not address whether he received criticism from senators after saying that “thoughts and prayers are not enough” shortly after the shooting took place. Black did say that members of the 118th Congress who attend his Bible study agreed to “fast and pray” on mass shootings, among other topics, and “how to do better with this problem.”
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“These are challenging times in which people are hurting, and they are hoping that somehow government can help alleviate their pain,” Black said on people’s perception of government.
“I should not have to walk, as the chaplain of the Senate or as a citizen, into a Walmart wondering as I’m looking around whether or not an AR-15 is going to start spraying bullets. You know, what do I do? The Our Father or the Hail Mary?” Black said.
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Efforts to reintroduce gun-control legislation have gained momentum since the shooting, with the White House calling upon Congress to “do something.” Republicans have instead said there is a mental health crisis facing the nation that no gun laws could fix.
“How many more lives must be lost before Congress is moved to act?” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said at a news conference days after the shooting. “How many families must be torn apart?”
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Republicans have previously opposed expanded funding for gun-violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arguing that such efforts would lead to “propaganda” for gun confiscation.
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.