It is time for Americans to ask ourselves: What kind of country do we want to live in?
To awaken Monday morning to the worst mass shooting by a single shooter in American history, after so many natural disasters have plagued American citizens these last few weeks, is to ask, how many more of these man-made disasters do we have to endure before something is done to prevent them?
But we have asked this question dozens of times before. Just because this is the worst such shooting doesn’t mean anything will change ― not a single law, not a single Republican Congressional mind and certainly not a single officer of the NRA. It is a mindset so ingrained to those who believe guns are beyond our control.
Let’s face it: The NRA is an organization that aids and abets terrorists. And yes, these shootings are acts of terror by domestic terrorists. Stephen Paddock was not a “lone wolf”; he was a terrorist.
Your prayers, American lawmakers, are empty and cliché. God does not protect Americans from the carnage unleashed by automatic rifles aimed at innocent civilians. Neither do travel bans on Muslim countries. Most of these shooters are white males. They are not Muslims; they are not foreigners. They are angry/insane/fill-in-the-blank Americans with access to the most lethal weapons available.
In Nevada it is lawful to possess a machine gun. Whether or not shooter Stephen Paddock had purchased his weapons legally, they are readily available.
Why does any American require an automatic assault rifle? There is no room for debate about this. There is only one answer. There is no sane reason for any private American citizen to own an automatic assault rifle.
It is precisely the right time to talk about guns. Just as it was time after Columbine, Sandy Hook and Orlando. Of course under this administration and with a majority Republican Congress, the conversation will be silenced before it ever really gets started.
But we must demand that the conversation go forward. We should be taking to the streets as we did to stop the health care overhaul. This is about the health and welfare of all of us, especially our children.
Do you want to live in a country where you must worry about your child or your mother or your friend attending a concert? Do you want to live in a country where you must worry about your child or your mother or your friend going to church? Do you want to live in a country where you must worry about your six-year-old going to school?
Ask yourself if it’s worth it to hold on to your weapons of mass destruction. Ask yourself if all those lives lost and lives maimed at the hands of white, American gun owners ― people who could look like you, people who live quietly in your community, like 64-year-old Stephen Paddock who apparently liked to gamble and go to shows in Vegas ― are worth trading for the freedom to own assault weapons.
Paddock liked to collect guns. According to some reports, he had at least 10 different long guns and assault rifles plus handguns. That is what all of our mass shooters have in common: they owned or had access to guns, usually more than one.
Study the numbers of mass shootings in countries where guns are not available, where laws protect their citizens. Do not be shocked when you discover that those countries don’t have Wikipedia pages filled with mass shootings.
In this country, we have already endured 337 mass shootings (four or more people shot) killing 410 people in the first nine months of 2017. That does not count the Las Vegas shooting.
We are prisoners of our freedom to own guns. We are prisoners of our insistence on the freedom to own mass killing machines.
We are so self-assured, so smug that we are free here in America. But isn’t the ultimate freedom the ability to pursue happiness in safety? If we have to worry every time we go somewhere that can be categorized as a soft target -– a concert, a mall, a theater, a church, a school -– we have lost the most precious freedom of all.