I’ve been wanting to write something in regards to the state of the politics and the world lately, but every time I sat down to do so, I never knew where to start or what exactly to say. Late Sunday night, a gunman opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest music festival, killing 59 and wounding more than 500. Thousands of people showed up to a concert in Las Vegas, but their love of music was met with unfathomable hate.
I woke up on Monday to see the news plastered on every social media page I scrolled past: one of the deadliest shootings in American history. I am not devastated or heartbroken or even shocked anymore, as horrible as that is to stay. I’m flat out angry. I am angry every time something like this happens, and I am tired of being angry.
Enough is enough.
We are letting ignorance destroy our planet and arrogance destroy our country. I am tired of the headlines that show natural disasters wreaking havoc on our planet and our people. I am tired of people not believing that climate change is real. I am tired of the headlines that splay death tolls and injured counts because of shootings—tired of the media not calling these white men out for what they are: terrorists.
Now, before you jump down my throat about whether the attack on Las Vegas “qualifies” as terrorism, please ask yourself this: If the shooter was not a white male, would you even hesitate to label this as an act of terror so quickly? (While the mass shooting may not be considered an act of terrorism according to federal standards, “Nevada defines an act of terrorism as ‘any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to…cause great bodily harm or death to the general population.'”) And even putting that question aside, he was a white male, and that does fit the mass shooter profile—whether your white privilege allows you to see that or not. Our country operates on a system that rushes to villainize people of color, or who practice a different faith, or unarmed teens, yet seeks to understand a “nonviolent” shooter.
What the thousands of concert-goers on Sunday night experienced certainly cannot be overlooked any longer. We cannot afford it. And what it comes down to is that five of the ten deadliest mass shootings in America have occurred in the past ten years. Our country has seen 1,516 mass shootings in the past 1,735 days, including more than 200 mass shootings this year alone. “If you’re not scared, you’re not paying attention,” and if you’re not paying attention, then you better reconsider your priorities.
Nevada does not require gun owners to require licenses, register their weapons, or limit the number of weapons they own. Automatic assault weapons and machine guns are legal in Nevada. The transfer of assault weapons is legal. Open carry is legal without a permit. We cannot stop mass shootings or domestic terrorism like this with such lax gun laws, both on state and federal levels. We need reform. We need regulations. We need to stop believing that just because the second amendment affords us the right to bear arms, that we need machine guns and assault rifles in order to protect ourselves.
How can we help? How can we make the world a safer, better place? How do we initiate change? Kindness is the first step. It may seem too simple. Or it may seem like it won’t make enough of an impact. But I truly believe that if we treat others better, if we show them kindness and compassion and heart, we will be in a much better place to resolve so many of the problems in the world.
Kindness and love cannot fix everything though. The prayers and the thoughts and the good wishes for America are not enough. We need to take action. We need to change the laws in our states and in our country regarding guns and ammunition—the same laws that allowed a man to walk into his Las Vegas hotel room with at least 23 firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Because Nevada does not require gun owners to require licenses, register their weapons, or limit the number of weapons they own. Because people’s sense of entitlement in regards to the second amendment apparently overshadows our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We cannot sit around and wait for things to get better anymore.
“I am so tired of waiting,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?”
– Langston Hughes
I implore you to act. Contact your representatives and senators immediately. Call or fax or write letters. Demand gun and ammunition reform. Text ACT to 64433 to join Everytown for Gun Safety, a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Text RESIST to 50409 to join ResistBot, a new service that turns your texts into faxes and letters for your state and local representatives.
Tell them your name. Tell them that you’re a constituent. Tell them to vote NO on Senate Bill 446 (‘concealed carry reciprocity’). Tell them you will no longer stand by and allow these injustices to plague our country. Tell your friends and family to call or fax or write letters. And don’t stop until there is change.