On Sunday night to kick off the month of October, Country music star Jason Aldean took stage, as he does night after night, to bring people together for their love of music at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas.
Merely ten minutes into his setlist the audience began hearing several popping noises. Being in the “city that never sleeps” the immediate presumption was that it was just fireworks, firecrackers, or sound malfunction on stage. It would only take seconds before over 22,000 people would realize that their world was about to be forever changed. Gunshot after gunshot after gunshot echoed the Las Vegas strip as this group of over 22,000 people began running, hiding, and fearing for their life.
Some saw people fall to their death attempting to retreat to safety; some felt a bullet hit the back of the person next to them, or placed their hand on their own back to a pool of blood. In a moment of pure madness, human instincts kicked in and the focus was to get out of this war zone alive and to get as many people out with them as they could. One man began loading strangers into a truck one by one, dozen by dozen, to transport them to a surrounding hospital. Another man shielded his wife from the rampage, ultimately ending his own. One of the most heartbreaking ones for me, yet one that displays the power of human decency, was a complete stranger who committed to stay with a severely injured man until he could be reunited with his family who had been on lockdown at another hotel; this bold and selfless woman, a complete stranger, would end holding this mans hand as he took his final breath and remain with his lifeless body until he could be reunited with his family.
The horror that seemed like it would never end came to a turning point after one hour and twelve minutes of pure Hell.
Police ambushed the doors of a suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay and found a 64-year old, home-grown American man, dead from a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Surrounding his body was 23 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Now, just a few short days later, we unite in mourning as a community; as a Country; and as a World; left with so many questions and very few answers
As 489 people suffer from injuries sustained, 59 others are left to having a memorial planned by their loved who would have never expected them to go so soon.
Monday night became a day that will forever change the landscape of the lengths of evil living among us. It was a night intended for music and drinking, that soon became the night that broke about families and destructed a community. Hours later, gun-shells filling the streets of this tourist city, a child woke up to the realization that they lost their Mother or they lost their father. A parent would soon get the dreaded call that their child didn’t make it. A husband would be left to identify his own wife as one of the fallen. A wife would be waiting outside the hospital room only to hear the sound of alarms coming from the room and soon drop to the floor in realization that he was gone.
Time is an interesting concept, one where that never stops, even in the moments like this. Time may have the ability to help people adapt to wounds in their lives, though I am not one to believe that it heals them. Forever now, when a Mothers sees that empty chair at the dinner table where her cheerleader used to sit each night, she will be struck with grief only wishing she would have had even just one more phone call. Forever now, everyday citizens who share their talent with the world will step on the stage in fear that each night the spotlight shines on them, thousands of people could fall victim to such a crime like this. Forever now, the city of Las Vegas will hold the memories, legacies, and heartaches that will always remain from the deadliest shooting in American history.
Las Vegas didn’t just change the course of 59 lives. It amplified the fear of people knowing that our current laws allowed one single individual to own 49 firearms.
I think it’s unfortunately easy to become desensitized to the violence that goes on around us sometimes. It is easy to look at all the human suffering and feel overwhelmed to the point that one prefers to just live life wanting to be unaware of it all. It is easy to turn on the news, read a status on social media, and participate in raising awareness. For a moment in time, it’s easy to just be thankful for one’s life. Then, of course, after the caskets lower into the ground and the media coverage fades back into other stories, we go back to life just as it was. Until the next shooting, when we will stand in horror asking ourselves why yet again; Until the next tragedy of violence that unfolds with no warning and no reason; Until the next big thing, then we will rise up together only to repeat this cycle once again.
A concert in Las Vegas;
A night club in Orlando;
An elementary school in Newton;
A college campus in Virginia;
A church in Charleston;
A retail store in Washington;
An office party in San Bernardino;
A military base in Texas;
A movie theatre in Colorado;
A work place in California;
An airport in Fort Lauderdale;
A medical clinic in Colorado Springs;
A religious temple in Wisconsin;
A salon in Seal Beach;
A library in Santa Monica;
A supermarket in Arizona;
An service center in New York;
A shopping mall in Omaha;
An outdoor mall in Salt Lake City;
Thousands of mass shootings have carried out in the 10 years from the devastation of Virginia tech, this list only naming a few. So what do we say? What do we do? How many more mass shootings do we allow before we humble ourselves, push away politics, and set better standards for ourselves to help in the prevention of this in the future. We can do that. We did just that after 9/11. Airport laws and regulations expanded in masses and aircrafts have been a safer environment since. The government has an obligation to protect it’s people, this is far beyond just a public safety issue now, this is downright murder in the first degree.
Common sense says that that we need to stop glorifying violence and that we need to improve increased access to mental healthcare. Common sense tells us that it is time to not add another mass shooting to the growing list, or add another person to the fatality count, but rather sit down and establish safer, much overdue, gun control. It is that latter solution that so many Americans rage when proposed. To those of you there, I emphasize that what our founding fathers called for in the Second Amendment was a well-regulated militia, not a chaotic and tragic environment where almost any citizen can open fire at will. No American citizen has a need for an automatic weapon, any no American should be able to get their hands on one over the internet, or through a private seller.
Put yourself in the shoes of the child that is now growing up without a mother or father.
Put yourself in the shoes of the parent having to bury their own child.
Put yourself in the shoes of a husband losing his wife; or wife losing her husband.
If this was your family member, your child, your parent, would you still be against gun control? Would you still be so ignorant to have the audacity to defend the fact that we have more guns in America than we do people? Would you still take to the comment threads and social media statuses with comments like “guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.” To those comments I nod in agreement, you are absolutely right. People with guns do kill people so why do we continue to allow those who we restrict from our airplanes to be able to purchase a fireman? Why the Hell do we have any laws on anything when nothing will stop a madman from an act of this magnitude if they are so determined?
What we are currently doing is only making the psychopath’s life easier by allowing just one man to easily access up to 49 guns, including 32 of which that were legally purchased in a 12-month time span. If the majority of Americans can continue to justify these inhumane events, then society has become more egotistically disturbing than I had ever imagined possible. However, I know that isn’t the case… because 90% of America stands in agreement to close loop holes in our gun policies.
So even as we watched humanity rise up without question to help one another on Monday night, again, we stand divided in tragedy and fail to make a change
Race, religion, gender, sexuality, and politics had no place in the mind of the hundreds of people putting their own life on the line to help save a life they may never see again.
Yet, as some lawmakers attempt to sit down to come up with a compromised resolution to save more lives there is still a majority of one side that says it’s too soon to bring it up. There’s still a side that refuses to acknowledge that it was also too soon for 59 innocent lives to end in an hour timeframe, at the hands of one individual. There is still one side that has a bill on the table to “protect public health” by lifting restrictions on silencers, yet doesn’t bother to protect public health after 59 lives were silenced.
It is almost unfathomable to digest that the same group passionately devoted to the preservation of an unborn baby by restricting a woman’s right to make decisions with her own body is the same group acting with a jarring disregard for the lives of victims of gun violence.
As Monday night unfolded, based on the current views of one political party, it was the right of this deranged, wicked man to carry his 32 weapons into that hotel room but a privilege for the 527 people to have equal access to healthcare as they are rushed to a hospital.
Now, now… I am with all of you and I also want our right and our freedoms protected, but we do happen to have more rights than one of which to own an insane plethora of weapons for no reason other than to do harm. Remember the unalienable rights that are spelled out in the Declaration of Independence?
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
What is happening to those rights? Why do these politicians seem to think the right to own an assault weapon outranks the right of millions of Americans each year to live their lives to enjoy liberty and pursue happiness? How did core moral priorities get so twisted?
Unless we are completely content with waking up to another horrific tragedy, then it is time to act. Unless you are completely content with the reality that if things don’t change any of us could be in this situation, then it is time to act. If you send your children to school, this impacts you. If you go to school, go to work, go to the mall, go to the supermarket, go to a medical clinic, go to a movie theatre, go to a nightclub, an airport, a concert, and even to church – this impacts you.
Every faith, every religion, and every culture teaches in some form that words without action are meaningless. Thoughts and prayers are great; they encourage and support, but they don’t stop the next individual from entering a place of their choosing to raise havoc. Enough is enough. Don’t just send thoughts and prayers anymore, don’t just donate $5 to relief effort, do something! America is a place full of endless opportunity so help make it the place we will it to be. These mass shootings can’t continue to be another headline on another day. Be that change. Call your senator and let your voice be heard. Call your Senator and let the voices of the 59 lives taken too soon and speak for them as they can no longer speak for themselves.
This will route you to the Senators in your state. (202) 224-3121.
If you’ve made it this far in my post, thank you. Thank you for listening to the thoughts I’ve had spinning for days trying to make sense of the senseless. I hope you gained some new insight or some new perspective from this because I sure as Hell have as I have watched footage of Monday night and as I have read countless reports, blogs, and writings about this very subject.
The statistics of gun violence are listed below. Here’s a link also to read about the 59 innocent lives lost that led me to this post today. Take a minute from your day to read about legacies that remain from the diversity of lives lost.
STATISTICS ON GUN VIOLENCE IN AMERICA
PER YEAR: 114,994 people, on average, in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention.
33,880 people die from gun violence
– 11,564 murdered
– 21,037 die from suicide
– 544 killed unintentionally
– 468 killed by legal intervention
– 267 die but intent was unknown
81,114 people survive gun injuries
– 60,041 injured in an attack
– 3,700 survive a suicide attempt
– 16,428 shot unintentionally
– 945 people are shot by legal intervention