Sunday night, a madman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers, killing fifty-nine, leaving over 500 injured.
Heartbreaking? Of course. Dozens of families are mourning a loved one today.
Unforeseen? In terms of specificity, yes—Sunday night, an outdoor concert in Vegas—yes, it was unexpected but like a lightning strike or an earthquake is unexpected. Because we know it’s going to happen, we just don’t know when. We don’t know where.
Sunday night’s mass shooting in Vegas – was it PREDICTABLE? Not with any kind of precision—but INEVITABLE? It was. Every one of us knew it was going to happen again – even after Sandy Hook. Even after twenty children were gunned down in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. If we’re waiting for something worse than that before introducing and passing legislation to promote gun safety, if we’ve decided that the Vegas massacre doesn’t fit the bill – not enough dead, not sad enough, not my kid, not my mom, not my brother, I’ve never been to Vegas, I hate country music – then we are rolling the dice, passing the buck, moving on, and living so cynically that it’s destroying us. “It’s not going to happen to me or my family.” You’re probably right. The odds are in your favor. Same as if you didn’t wear a seat belt when you drove. Chances of getting in an accident that propels you through the windshield? Slim.
And yet, you wear a seat belt. You are required to wear a seat belt. If the Highway Patrol notices you are not wearing a seat belt, you get a ticket. Your insurance rates might even increase. The wearing of seat belts is just one rule among many implemented to make driving in cars SAFER.
In terms of guns in this country, it’s perfectly legitimate to talk about safety even as the families of those killed in Vegas mourn. One does not preclude the other.
So let’s talk about it. It’s stupid to continue to do nothing in the face of gun deaths. To the world, we appear foolish, selfish, self-righteous. Americans are at least ten times more likely to be killed with a gun than 22 other First World Countries. We’re taking chances with our lives in the name of freedom. All because we can’t agree on a constitutional amendment written over two hundred years ago. Okay, then let’s not talk about the Second Amendment and let’s talk about life and death. Let’s talk about how to reduce gun violence in this country.
Let’s talk about what the great majority of us agree upon. Let’s talk about gun safety, let’s talk about what might work – not to prevent gun deaths but to reduce them. Because it’s been five years since Sandy Hook. It’s been three days since an 8-year-old boy was accidentally shot and killed in Texas after playing around with a semi-automatic weapon with no trigger guard. It’s been two days since Vegas. Time is immaterial in this situation unless you’re talking about how it’s wasted.
Let’s not allow the cynics and the NRA to convince us that we’re wasting our time trying to figure out how to avoid burying our loved ones prematurely.
Let’s talk practically; let’s talk about what might work; let’s get some legislation written. But let’s stop talking in absolutes. There is no one law or regulation, there is no one answer, there is no one gun incident that takes care of this problem.
But like anything worth doing we have to start somewhere, without guarantees but with research, statistics, analysis, and then legislate based on the facts derived there from. To that end, call your representatives (they’re the ones who create the laws!) and insist that they overturn the Dickey Amendment to free up the funds needed for the CDC to study gun violence so that, based on their findings, Congress can then offer recommendations that become suggestions that become statutes that save lives. It’s how a smart country operates. Let’s be smart.
Despite this post, let’s put down the rhetoric and figure out what we can agree upon and then begin. Right now. Because waiting for the next Vegas to inspire us is disgusting and immoral. I can’t get through the day without believing we’re better than that, even if it turns out not to be true.
Just the facts: visit GunViolenceArchive.org