This week in Las Vegas, Nevada, a man aimed a modified semi-automatic weapon out of a window from the 32nd floor of a casino hotel, devastating the nation. I first saw reports when I was giving the baby his morning bottle just before 5 am. My first thought was not of the victims or of gun control; it was of race. My first thought was four words: “I hope he’s white.” If you don’t already know, I am a white woman. I don’t hate my race or wish ill against white people, but as I sat here feeding this sweet baby, my thoughts turned to what would happen if the shooter wasn’t white. What would the reaction of White America be? What if it had been a black man, a Hispanic man, or a man of middle eastern descent; all natural-born Americans — not immigrants or non-citizens. Had the shooter been anything other than white, how many victims would there be that were nowhere near Las Vegas that night? Just imagine the reaction. If he were middle eastern, there would be cries for more “Muslim Bans”; if he were Hispanic, a call for a bigger, stronger wall, even if either of these people were 100%, natural-born citizens. I can’t even fathom the reaction if the shooter would have been a black man. I can guarantee you that he would have never been described as “a good man.” What are we trying to do since we don’t have an entire race to vilify?
So that was my first thought, my second was of course, “Why do we keep letting this happen?” I know, I know, I am a liberal “snowflake”. I don’t care about the 2nd amendment and I am obviously not a loyal American. In reality, I am just tired. I am so tired of hearing that 58 dead Americans are the price of freedom. I have purposefully not read a lot about the shooter, but I wonder if any of his friends had ever admired his gun collection? How does that friend who thought his bump stock was “cool” feel today? Why are we not doing anything? I’ve seen a meme about the number of people killed on 9/11 and how no guns were used; that people will use whatever tools are available. The difference is when someone used a plane to kill 3000 people, the United States, and the world heavily regulated air travel. For goodness sake, you have to have a freaking body scan to get anywhere near a plane. When Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer to kill all of those people in Oklahoma City, regulations were placed on the amount of fertilizer one could buy. When some nutcase put cyanide in a few bottles of Tylenol in the 80s, the government started requiring tamper proof seals on everything from pills to mustard. When something endangers American citizens, there is immediate legislation. We have dozens and dozens of “named laws” that address something that usually only happened one time. Why then do we claim that nothing can be done about gun violence? That we can’t “legislate evil.” I’m not claiming to know the answer, I just think there needs to be some serious conversations about America’s priorities. We seem to care more about an individual right to pursue a hobby or protect ourselves from hypothetical situations than we do about protecting the lives of our friends and family. Because that’s who died this week at the hands of a really bad man with an arsenal of deadly weapons – friends, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and neighbors. People died. People with the right to live. The next time this happens, we will once again mourn and offer “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families, but when will we actually do something that will prevent that “next time”?