Country Strong: The Shooting in Las Vegas

It is an unseasonably hot day at the end of June. I am standing in a huge stadium, waiting to see my favorite country artists take the stage. To my left and right are four of the most important people in my world, but in the crowd of over 100,000, we are barely a speck.

This was my reality a little over a year ago. Last night, my reality was much different. Last night, when I woke up at 12:52 a.m. and decided to check my phone, I saw a USA Today alert that there was a mass shooter in Las Vegas. When I woke up again at 3:01 a.m., two people were dead and 24 injured. At 4:41 a.m., 20 were dead. When I got up to go to work at 5:30, it was 50.

Only then did I make the effort to look and see what was going on, and only then did I find out that this mass murder occurred at a country concert much like one that I attended only a year ago.

And my first thought was, it would be so easy. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

The concert was called Route 91, a three-day festival that celebrated country music. I had thought about going to this festival with some friends, because what could possibly happen at a country concert?

So my reality continued. I went to work and taught a classroom full of fourteen year olds about Edgar Allan Poe, while the pit in my stomach gradually got larger and larger. At the same time, the death and injured toll climbed to 58 dead and over 500 wounded.

It would be so easy. To shoot down from the 32nd floor of a building into a crowded arena bellow. You wouldn’t even have to aim; you could just shoot. The exits are few and far between, so you essentially have a trapped audience.

This is now the deadliest mass shooting in recent American history, a phrase that we just used last year to describe the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Before that, we talked about the 2012 murder of children and teachers in Sandy Hook. Before that, we talked about the 2007 rampage at Virginia Tech. Before that, we talked about Columbine. Before that, before that, before that.

How many “before that”s is it going to take for us to learn? How many more people have to die before we can realize that if people aren’t given access to these weapons of mass destruction, then mass destruction cannot occur with the frequency we currently see?

I am all for the second amendment. I believe in the right for people to protect themselves and their loved ones by arming themselves. But arming yourself with a semi automatic weapon that can shoot 700 rounds per minute, like the weapon used last night, is not protecting yourself. It is equipping yourself to commit mass murder.

There is no doubt that the politicians are already tweaking the same speech that they have used for the past dozen years every time a mass shooting occurs. And there is no doubt that politicians on the other side of the aisle are polishing their speeches about the right to bear arms and how this is a mental health issue, not a gun issue.

Either way, can there be any doubt that this level of weaponry only has a purpose of taking human lives? Can there be any doubt that there is no practical purpose to this level of weaponry aside from absolute destruction?

No, there isn’t. I was in a place much like these people were only a year ago, where my only agenda was to have a great time and listen to my favorite music with people I loved. When we will get it through that this image needs to be protected, and the only way we can accomplish that is through stricter gun legislation?

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