58, 49, 14, 9, 26. These are not just numbers. These numbers represent real people murdered in senseless acts of violence; and underscore how mass shootings have become a part of America’s culture. When will it end?
Americans awoke Monday morning to another mass shooting tragedy. A gunman, armed with dozens of military-style weapons, took aim on unsuspecting concert-goers hundreds of feet below. He killed 58 and injured (some critically) over 400 people.
Heather Alvarado, 35. Dorene Anderson. Carrie Barnette, 34. Jack Beaton, 54. Steve Berger, 44. Denise Burditus, 50. Sandy Casey, 35. Austin Davis, 29.
Authorities found 23 guns in the Las Vegas hotel room, including a variety of high-capacity assault rifles. At least a dozen of these guns had been modified, legally, to fire like automatic weapons.
Thomas Day Jr., 42. Stacey Etcheber. Kevin Galavan, 31. Dana Gardner, 52. Angie Gomez, 20. Charleston Hartfield. Jennifer Irvine, 42. Jessica Klymchuk.
Las Vegas is an open carry state and allows one to legally carry firearms in public places. Hotels do not search guests’ luggage or require guests to pass through a metal detector. Would hotel staff have even raised an eyebrow if they had seen a guest check in with multiple firearms?
Rhonda LeRocque, 42. Victor Link, 55. Jordan Mcildoon, 23. Kelsey Breanne Meadows, 28. Sonny Melton. Adrian Murfitt, 35. Rachel Parker, 33.
There are no limits on how many rifles or how much ammunition a person can purchase in Nevada. The guns used in this attack, as far as authorities can tell, were all acquired (and modified into even deadlier weapons) legally.
Jenny Parks. Carrie Parsons. John Phippen, 57. Melissa Rameriz, 26. Jorydn Rivera, 21. Quinton Robbins, 20. Cameron Robinson, 27. Tara Roe, 34.
Ironically, this very week, House republicans in Congress were poised to pass legislation, backed strongly by the NRA, which would ease restrictions on gun silencers. The vote has been postponed (because of the latest shooting)…but not cancelled.
Lisa Romero-Muniz, 48. Christopher Royball, 28. Erick Silva, 22. Bailey Schweitzer, 20. Laura Shipp, 50. Susan Smith, 53. Brennan Stewart, 30. Neysa Tonks, 46. Michelle Vo, 32. Kurt von Tillow, 55. Bill Wolf Jr., 42.
It’s hard to read the names of these victims. It is even harder to believe that so many Americans will choose to do nothing to prevent the next massacre.
Yet, we did nothing when 20 six-year olds were slaughtered in their own classroom. We did nothing when nine church-goers were shot in their own parish. We did nothing when 49 people were murdered in a nightclub. We did nothing when 12 people were killed in a movie theatre.
After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there was hope that Congress would tighten up gun regulations to make it more difficult for the mentally ill to acquire guns. Some basic measures were implemented during the Obama administration; in February, Trump signed legislation to repeal them.
Other bills, including one that would close the private sale loophole on background checks, were all effectively stopped by the powerful gun lobby.
The NRA claims guns are not the problem. After all, according to popular talking points, cars kill more people than guns and a bag of manure can take down a building. But there is no comparison. Assault rifles are intended to kill as many people as possible in as short a period of time as possible. And our laws, or lack thereof, ensure easy access.
Now, I support one’s 2nd amendment rights to bear arms though the original intent of the 2nd amendment is widely debated. For instance, does every American gun owner belong to a well-regulated militia? If the 2nd amendment does allow for the weapons of today, that doesn’t mean controls cannot or should not be put in place.
The majority of Americans support stricter gun control measures. Democrats and some Republicans are calling for a ban on bump stocks–the device the killer used to make his rifles fire like automatic weapons. It is a start.
Do you agree? If so…now is the time to contact your members of Congress to express your support for this measure and other responsible gun control provisions.
Don’t forget these victims. Work to end gun violence today.
Nicole Faraguna is a founding member of the Susquehanna Valley Progressives.