What happened in Las Vegas is shocking and achingly sad. Hate it or love it, if you’ve been to Vegas, you know it’s about escaping reality — the flashing lights, fake volcanoes and even the fantasy pink ladies. It’s all synthetic fun. In many casinos, there are no clocks on the walls — and the drinks keep on coming as long as you feed the slots or put cash on the tables. On the strip, the music and bright billboards supported by billions of dollars in impressive flashy architecture create an American adult’s state-fair midway.
It seems especially cruel that an a**hole, armed with high powered automatic weapons can snuff out so many souls in mere minutes while they are out having fun. It happened in Vegas and it happened that way in Orlando, too. But then again, it’s equally cruel when bullets fired by maniacs kill young people attempting to learn at a university, such as the 27 students and five teachers at Virginia Tech in 2007; or the 20 children and five adults shot dead at Sandy Hook in 2012... the list goes on and on and that doesn’t even begin to touch the families destroyed each day by gun violence both from crime, passion and mistakes of judgement as well as suicide. We all know it’s happening, and everyone knows it’s true.
We are grieving now for Las Vegas. But the ugly awful fact is that Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries. Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States’ gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher according to a 2016 study from the Univ. of Nevada study published in the Journal of American Medicine.
This is a human issue. It is not a political issue. It would be an insult to our intelligence, our dignity and the nation’s collective morality to not to talk about it and discuss it right now. The American people deserve to have this conversation and we all need to understand what sensible gun reforms might mean for all of us.
Does someone who likes to hunt need a semi-automatic weapon? What’s wrong with stronger background checks? While it’s true we can’t legislate human decency we can at least introduce additional safety valves to what is a clearly a flawed system cursed with gaping holes that are leaking blood, destruction and incalculable grief — misery and fear.
The man who killed all those people in Las Vegas early Monday morning had as many as 23 high powered rifles in his hotel room. There were almost 20 more at his Mequite, Nevada home. Truth be told, it is as easy for Americans to get a gun as it is to buy a quart of milk on a Monday in many states. To me, that is a terrifying and vivid reality and it’s time we as a people stopped trying to escape that simple truth. This is our reality. We can’t wait any longer to change it for the better of all our people.