I woke up to the horrifying news of the Las Vegas shooting.
I woke up to reading, “The deadliest mass shooting in modern US history”.
My heart is heavy, and yes – I prayed; I prayed for the victims of this tragedy and I prayed once more for the countless lives lost from the mass shootings in America committed by people with machine guns.
When Hiram Maxim began working on his first working model of an automatic gun in 1884, he found that it could fire 666 rounds of ammunition in under a minute. In 1897, The New York Times called Maxim’s invention, “Terrible automatic engines of war… These are instruments that have revolutionized the methods of warfare, and because of their devastating effects, have made nations and rules give greater thought to the outcome of war before entering… They are peace-producing and peace-retaining terrors…”
Well, here we are, in 2017 and machine guns have most certainly become more dangerous than they were in 1897.
The New York Times quote is fascinating in many ways, as it labels the guns as, “Terrible automatic engines of war”. WAR being the operative word. It’s astounding then, to think of states like Nevada with one of the loosest gun controls in the USA, grant its citizens the right to carry an, “Engine of war.”
Weapons such as the one used by Stephen Paddock were banned under the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban; however, since its expiration in 2004, gun lobbyists have made it their crusade to oppose a renewal and also to get more states to adopt less restrictive gun laws. Until we receive confirmation that Paddock used an unregistered machine gun, what sits heavy in my heart is the nuance of just “unregistered” and not the more alarming fact – MACHINE GUNS ARE LEGAL in Nevada. We can take look at the stats, and what’s notable is the use of some form of automatic weapon.
What are we doing with weapons intended for mass killings other than using it for mass killings?
Because when else do you need such weapons? Gun lobbyists will give a number of reasons, and I say – none are nor will ever be good enough. We are not in a war torn country here in the U.S., thank God, so a need to arm our citizens with swift killing machines is maddening. Especially now since we have just all witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in our modern U.S. history, it is unacceptable.
Facebook statuses sharing our empathy, anger, frustration, and prayers just aren’t enough anymore. Perhaps this is the catalyst that will once more ignite the fire to renew the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. That would be a start, but we need more than that. We have ignited fire in legislation in the past, it’s gotten us nowhere. The spark now needs to come from the people. You want change? We need to do it ourselves. We sat, we empathized and then we got angry and the result was the Black Lives Matter movement – similarly, I feel that legislation will be powerful if the people are behind it demanding a change.
Look, we empathize when we can relate right? Every citizen residing in the USA can relate because we now have another place to think twice about going to – a concert – and a nightclub, and to the movie theaters, and to a college campus, and to elementary school… First grade is now a scary place not because of bullies or making new friends, but because you could be faced with a maniac going insane with an assault rifle. It’s a dramatic thought, but it’s reality. I call on the American people to enter the dialogue of gun reform beyond social media remarks. You can pray – but then do something else. Participate in protest – protest is the tried and true way – then go beyond that, too. Contact your local representatives and demand your local officials to reengage in the call for gun reform, especially in states where you have open carry arm laws. Gun lobbyists have gotten this far because they “lobby” – as in, pester government officials to adopt whatever laws and regulations they want – why can’t we the people do the same?