What the Las Vegas Massacre Means for America

On Sunday night, America experienced arguably one of its most brutal massacres to date. Stephen Paddock shot and killed 59 people, and injured at least 500 more. Paddock died during the incident, though it has not been confirmed Paddock killed himself and though many fear knowledge of his true intent died with him, Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo assures that “this investigation is not ended with the demise of Mr Paddock”.

 

Image via Pixabay

 

I was born in Henderson- a suburb of the city of Las Vegas- and my childhood knew many excursions to hotels or casinos, not to gamble, but for concerts, movies and colorful breakfast buffets. Though it can seem like a small escape for most, it is home to many. It is not just the neon filled image plastered on ads or imitated in films, but this is a large portion of what makes it unique. The Las Vegas Strip has been hailed as “The Adult Disneyland," with extensive opportunities for entertainment, gambling, drinking and 21+ fun. It has become an American rite of passage to experience the wonderland through bachelor parties or coming-of-age rituals. Las Vegas is a tourist town attracting people from around the world. You can walk the carpet lined path of The Bellagio and hear 4 different languages being spoken. Home to some, retreat to others, Las Vegas is unequivocally American. The accessible goal of living life to its fullest is possible no matter your ethnicity in Las Vegas, and this is ideally the essence of The Land of the Free.

From 10:08pm to 10:19pm on October 1, shots were fired by Stephen Paddock at concert-goers of the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival. There were over 40 weapons recovered from Paddock’s room, and cameras were placed in his room presumably to watch for oncoming authorities. This senseless act brings up discrepancies in three things: terrorism, gun control and white privilege.

Terrorism

Was this massacre an act of terrorism? Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” Unfortunately, we do not yet know the motive, but this act was innately political, whether or not that was the main motive. People now feel unsafe exercising their liberties, people have feelings on gun control policies, and people turn to local and national political figures for answers. This act was an act of terror in my opinion. Stephen Paddock terrorized not only the people he injured and killed, but their loved ones, and America as a whole.

Gun Control

Guns are used for many things. Self defense, hunting, and violence can generalize them. Though it is an American’s right to bear arms, is it their right to bear 47? And of those 47, should he be allowed to have high powered rifles capable of penetrating police armor? No. Those aren’t used for anything but violence. If this event proves anything, it's that gun control is a necessary evil in the climate of our world.

White Privilege

 

Image via the Huffington Post

 

If Stephen Paddock was a person of color, we would be looking at a very different media scene. His skin color is protecting him from being called a terrorist. Islamophobia is rampant in America, whether or not people admit it. Terrorism is associated with people of color, despite the fact that a large amount of terror acts are committed by white people, more specifically white males. Stephen Paddock was a terrorist.

So what does this mean?

Las Vegas was my home, Las Vegas was a fun vacation spot, Las Vegas is a victim. It will never again be the same after this horrific tragedy, nor will America, but hopefully we can learn from it. You can talk about these issues and try to affect change. You can help them recover by donating blood, donating money and volunteering your time. Reach out. Call politicians. Exercise your freedom of speech, your right as an American.