A Time for Reflection & Action: Las Vegas

Waking up on the morning of October 1st, I unlocked my phone — like any other day — to check my notifications and see what I had missed from the previous night. Instantly, I noticed five different banners, all emblazoned with “Breaking News.” A mass shooting had happened in Las Vegas while I was sleeping, the biggest mass shooting in American history. And in that moment, I couldn’t even be surprised. Receiving those awful news notifications coupled with my lack of shock caused me to fully realize just how commonplace these mass murders are.

Though I was not personally affected by the shooting, it deeply resonated with me. I have scrolled through the victims list, reading their stories, and trying to get glimpses of the lives they led. These innocent concertgoers each had their own families, their own friends. People whose lives irrevocably changed while I safely slept in my dorm room bed. I’ve imagined what it could have possibly been like to be at that concert, or be someone who lost someone. Unfortunately, at this point, it is not unfathomable to me.

Photo credit: Slate

Growing up in today’s world, I have made a promise to myself to not be scared to live my life to the fullest. And it’s hard. I read stories of terrorists’ attacks like these mass shootings and bombings, and it’s hard to see the good in the world. It’s hard to understand why these killers strive to steal the innocence of a happy event. In a world where it seems like nothing is sacred — elementary schools, music festivals, dance clubs — it’s hard to see how we can keep going on.

However, it shouldn’t have to feel like that. I shouldn’t have had to feel immense relief and guilt when I learned that the shooter was originally planning to go to Fenway Park and other Boston locations to carry out his massacre. In reading that, I felt so grateful he chose to not attack my home — but then incredibly guilty that 60 lives were lost across the country. It makes me feel sick.

I shouldn’t have to feel sick over this so often. I shouldn’t have to EXPECT this news. America is so frequently entrenched in the gun control debate that they boil it down to the constitution and Amendment rights. Yet, we have attributed no value to the people whose lives were lost. A person is always more valuable than a gun. Always.

Photo credit: The New Yorker

We have failed victims before. Sandy Hook. Orlando. San Bernadino. Time and time again, these names and these places become shrouded in quiet shame, as Americans have to deal with the fact that these entirely preventable tragedies are only happening because we cannot agree to create some regulations. And yes, regulations would work: for example, Australia created strict gun regulations after a mass shooting in 1996. There have been zero massacres since. So, America’s blasé attitude and claims that it “cannot be done” are completely false.

Whatever your stance is on gun control, there has to be an acknowledgement that there is no reason for the Las Vegas shooter to have that many automatic weapons in his hotel room and home. They should not be that easily accessible in a country where their use is unnecessary. Furthermore, mental illness should not be the fallback excuse for every mass shooting. In a country where mental illness is stigmatized enough, blaming every massacre on a mental disease is harmful, not helpful. We are not getting to the root of the problem by creating excuses and feigning concern. We’re reaching a point where these killers are feeling so emboldened that massacres like this will occur every day. And that is unacceptable.

As Americans, we should be ashamed as we continue to let these victims down. And as people, we should feel empathetic. This could be your family member, friend, or yourself. And for so many people, it has been. It’s time to truly ask ourselves as a nation: do we value our guns more than human lives? If your answer to that question is anything more than “no,” that is disgraceful. Let us not be a disgrace again. Let us change the laws so we can support the victims, rather than shrug our shoulders and say “not again.”

 

Read about the victims here.

Donate to the victims here.

Contact your local representatives here.

 

Cover Photo Credit: CNN