Las Vegas

untitled-1987
“Untitled”. Aki Kuroda. 1987

By Mariya

People must have looked like ants to him from his high perch up in the sky and he may have felt like a god or an angel, holding their lives in the crook of his trigger-finger. Oh wait, the Las Vegas shooter didn’t even bother to use his own finger, rather, he opted for the more impersonal and efficient “bump stocks” to unleash the largest carnage in the least amount of time.

According to investigators, he had a large cache of guns and ammunition – some legal, some not. But he didn’t need all of his toys to rain death upon the concert-goers beneath his Mandalay Bay window. People keep asking “why?” when they should be asking “how?” How is it possible that in this day and age, in a country that has seen some of the most horrific gun-related massacres in the civilized world, that such a tragedy was allowed to take place? How is it possible that we, as a country, didn’t learn from our past mistakes and didn’t try to do better? How is it possible that a man can enter a large hotel  with multiple semi-automatic firearms? How is it possible that such a man can even obtain these firearms? And how could so many Americans continue to rail against gun control laws even as the blood of the Las Vegas massacre victims was still wet on the ground?

There is something tragically askew about a worldview that sees guns as a necessity but health insurance as a privilege. That protects the rights of gun owners to buy any weapon they can afford, but not the rights of the community and of the victims of gun violence. That takes the right to defend oneself to such ridiculous heights that it becomes a farce. That sees nothing wrong with White Supremacists toting assault rifles while swarming the streets of Black and Latino communities in a so-called “peaceful march”. That advocates for more weapons as a response to mass shootings.

More weapons, indeed. If only the band had a tank or a rocket launcher, then none of this would have happened.

Yes, you have a right to own a gun, sort-of. The meaning of the Second Amendment is often a topic of heated debates. It says that citizens should have the right to bear arms as part of a civilian militia. Most people who own guns are not militia – many had never served in the military or law enforcement. But putting that aside, even if you are entitled to own a gun, why should you be entitled to own an assault rifle? Why do you need several semi-automatic weapons? The purpose of a gun is to shoot. The bigger and more powerful the gun and the more rapidly it can shoot, the more damage it can inflict. Unless you are planning to take on the Mexican drug cartels, you really don’t need assault rifles.

Yet any time someone proposes restrictions of what weapons can be purchased and by whom, the NRA and gun-nuts start crying like the government is about to come for their first-born. Why does your right to own a gun supersede my right to life? Sure accidents happen and non-gun-related murders do occur. But we have a shocking statistic in this country of gun-related deaths. Most of these are not accidental and are, in fact, intentional or even premeditated. Perhaps if guns were not so easily obtainable, or weapons like semi-automatic and high-powered rifles were banned, then we would see much fewer of these tragedies.

There seems to be a disconnect between wanting to own whatever toys one wants without anyone telling them that they cannot, and facing the consequences of everyone being allowed to own these toys. Owning a gun does not make you exempt from being a victim of gun violence. If you were lucky enough to never have a gun pointed in your face or having lost a loved one to gun violence, as a human being you should be able to identify with those who have and respond with some minimal amount of empathy.  But it seems that for many Americans, that is a big ask.

America, you literally have a gun pointed at your head and it’s your hand holding it. You must decide to disarm and regulate, or continue losing loved ones in this horrible fashion.

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