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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

After Vegas: What Now?

It has been a couple of nights since the streets of Las Vegas were filled with panic and fear.  Two nights since fifty-nine people were gunned down and over five hundred more were wounded as they were celebrating the end of a three-day country music festival.  A couple of days since the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

And it's taken me a couple of days to actually try and compose some thoughts on the whole thing.

At this point, we may never know what possessed the perpetrator to check into the Mandalay Bay resort, smash some of the windows in his thirty-second floor suite and just randomly shoot at the crowd that was trying to enjoy the Jason Aldean concert.  And considering that this coward pulled the trigger on himself after the fact, we may never know.  At this point it is speculation as to what made him do such a despicable act.  But one thing you can't deny was that this attack was planned.  And yes, contrary to what people might argue otherwise, it is absolutely an act of terrorism.

Just as the case with the knife attack in Marseilles, France earlier this week.  Or the stabbing incident involving a police officer and four other people on the streets of Edmonton during a football game.  All acts of terrorism as far as I am concerned.

The shootings in Las Vegas was definitely a wake-up call.  The question is, will anyone do anything about it?

I'm being serious.  Back in 1999, two students entered a high school armed with guns and shot a teacher and twelve innocent students in Colorado.  There was a huge debate about gun control back then with lots of divide.  Many wanted stricter laws on the sale and distribution of guns and other weapons, but people also argued that it was within their rights to carry a gun as per the Second Amendment.  The Columbine school shootings were eighteen years ago.  Everyone knew that something had to be done so that this never happened again, but nothing really came of it.

Flash forward a few years, and you had a man shooting people inside of a movie theatre in the same state.  But, no, we didn't need to reopen the gun control debate.

Five months later, a man wreaked havoc on an elementary school, killing several students under the age of eight years old.  Again, the debate was opened up, but once again nobody seemed to want to do anything about it.

Or, how about the shootings at Pulse nightclub in Orlando?  Was anything done then to stop the violence?

And yet here we are.  Fifty-nine people are now dead, with the casualty list expected to climb.  Fifty-nine families forever broken and damaged.  Fifty-nine funerals planned over the course of the next few days.  All because of a man who stockpiled a bunch of weapons and ammunition for the sole purpose of inflicting as much damage as possible.

Still want to put this on the backburner, America?

Look, I get that there are some of you who will fight to the death to have the right to bear arms.  It's the right of the Second Amendment, you say.

Know what I say?  The Second Amendment needs to be amended.  It needed to be amended YEARS ago.

I have no problem with people who want to have a rifle for hunting purposes.  Granted, I don't think hunting is a sport I would enjoy (and I am definitely against hunting endangered species), but that's just my thought.  I also have no problem with people who want to keep a small pistol in their homes for protection.  Again, I probably wouldn't have one in my house because I don't like guns, but the Second Amendment does state that people have the right to bear arms.

That said, it is absolutely ridiculous for one man to want to have an entire arsenal of guns at his disposal.  On top of that, as far as assault rifles or bazookas or any high powered machine gun, I don't think that any civilian should even have the power to purchase one of these guns in the first place.  Unless you are a soldier in the military, or even a high-ranked police official, there is NO reason why anyone should even have this on their person.  As far as I am concerned, I don't have an issue with people having the right to bear arms...I do have an issue with people who stockpile weapons for the sole purpose of causing terrorist attacks, and I think that there needs to be better screening, better record keeping, and for sporting goods and weapon shops to have the right to refuse sales to people who are unfit to carry weapons via psychological issues or past criminal convictions.

Of course, the amendment of the Second Amendment has to be government approved - and frankly, I've got little confidence in #45 to make the necessary amendment happen.  Apparently he's too busy making a mockery of democracy one tweet at a time to even think about that right now.  And yes, I did go there.  No apologies.  No regrets. 

The time is now to say enough is enough.  The time has come to face the issue of gun control head on.  The time has come to realize that by putting it off, the bigger chance of more lives being lost senselessly.  Do the right thing and amend the second amendment.  The fact that in 2017, there's now an average of one mass shooting per day - that is way too high of a number.  This is officially a crisis. 

My heart breaks for the people of Las fact, it breaks for people all over the world.  In fact, a couple from the next town over from where I live got caught in the crossfire.  Though both of them managed to survive to tell the tale, not everybody was so fortunate.

However, to close this off, I do want to state that I've heard people say that they won't be going to another concert after this, or that they will be staying away from public gatherings.  While I can understand how in shock they are, I want to also state that this should not deter anybody from living their lives to the fullest.  If anything, this tragedy makes all of us realize just how fragile life is.  We shouldn't live our lives in fear just because of the chance that something bad could happen.

Yes, the lights of the strip have dulled a little and the Gulch may have temporarily lost its Glitter.  But the people of Las Vegas are tough and I am sure that one day they will bounce back louder and prouder than ever and show the world that they are not afraid.  In fact, we saw quite a lot of that present in the minutes after the shootings.  People using wire fences as makeshift stretchers to place wounded victims on.  The paramedics and police officers who worked all hours of the night to treat the wounded.  The concert goers who stayed together and protected each other in the darkest hours.  Everyday people who became heroes.  People who became the light along the neon streets of Las Vegas in the city's darkest hour.

Those are the people who will hopefully help the rest of the world see the way.  At least, the optimist in me says so.             

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