After Las Vegas
The first dreadful pieces of news coming out of Las Vegas on Sunday, October 1, coalesced into yawning horror that would grip a nation and sadden our world. Fifty-nine people were dead and hundreds injured at the hands of a lone sniper, who had secreted more than 20 rifles and handguns on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. From that perch, the shooter had uninterrupted views of the Las Vegas Strip and the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music concert, that kicked off at the Las Vegas Village, a venue across the Strip from the Luxor hotel and the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
People who own guns — people who love the freedom and responsibility that accompanies firearms ownership — are every bit as appalled and shocked as the non-gun-owning public.
We love the traditions, the history, the technology of firearms, and we grew up with the sense of deep responsibility owning guns brings. We gun owners have a deeply held belief in gun safety, instilled by our parents and our grandparents. Owning a gun means living by a set of sternly ingrained rules. Those rules belong to us. We live by them. And when someone breaks those rules, we feel betrayed, appalled, and angry. We mourn the dead and injured people in the Las Vegas shooting as Americans — not as gun owners or non-gunowners. Concertgoers, people on the street, entertainers, were all potential targets in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
The call for stricter gun control in this environment is inevitable and has already begun. These discussions will go on for some time. But for now, Gun Tests magazine chooses to focus on the immediate and the practical. First, as we all know, guns are a fact of life in this country, and to “ban” them will never work. But we do need to have a good-faith conversation amongst ourselves about the essence of gun control. Live by the simple rules passed down from parents to children to grandchildren. Remind yourselves of the responsibilities we share and we cherish.
In particular, along with the debates in this country about gun control comes a debate about mental illness — and the absolutely essential requirement that dangerous objects like guns be kept well away from those who would use them in the commission of a crime. We gun-owning individuals are the first line of defense.
Investigators found at least 19 additional firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and the chemical tannerite, an explosive, at the shooter’s home in Mesquite, Nevada. They also found ammonium nitrate, a chemical that can be used in bomb-making.
It is up to each one of us to observe, counsel, and, most of all, befriend loved ones who may be contemplating crimes you can scarcely begin to imagine. The debates will rage around us, and we’ll of course pay close attention to the outcomes. But today, the opportunity to save someone’s life begins with you and me.