It feels like a blink in time since I wrote Moments of Silence and posted it here. Forty-nine people dead in a senseless tragedy with what has been lauded as a terrorist attack, but more accurately was a deranged man caught in the metaphorical crossfire between his religion and being ashamed of his sexuality, throwing in a spurned romance to the mix. Instead of facing the reality of his life, he did something he hoped would erase what he saw as his uncontrollable shame. He made a quick pledge to those who would have happily condemned him knowing his secret truth, and sought out revenge on the man he couldn’t be with, the whole society he blamed for his ‘sin’ and himself. And he did it because it was easy to do. Here in the US we practically shove guns down men’s throats creating an atmosphere where a man capable of such violence, carrying a hint of that threat, is glorified and masculine.
So, fast forward to waking up yesterday morning (it wasn’t nearly long enough, but could it ever be?) and my husband texting me to look at the news, mass shooting is Las Vegas. We have no idea why this man actually put such planning into this murderous tirade. We know it could not have been a whim. It wasn’t likely a spur of the moment decision considering his prime location to terrorize a long-planned music event. All those rooms were likely booked up months ago. I want to see when he booked that suite.
He had an enormous stockpile of weapons and explosives and ammunition. So far, it looks like all the weapons and ammunition were legally purchased, though new information is continually emerging. I seriously hope the explosives were illegal, because if not, what the hell, Nevada? What no one has been able to locate, though, is a motive. The man did not just snap that day. He was prepared. He planned it. He chose the event and the location to rain fire. He had twenty-three firearms in the suite, they found nineteen more in his home. They found thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Now let’s think about this for a moment. Let us reflect on why this matters. One man bought enough weapons and ammunition for a small militia. And nobody knew a thing. He bought multiple semiautomatic weapons, and reports that he legally purchased an automatic machine gun, as crazy as that sounds. But no red flags anywhere. He bought thousands of rounds of ammunition, but no one noticed. Why?
Because no one was watching.
Because Nevada has some of the weakest gun laws in the nation. Pretty much only the federal government has weaker gun laws. Just some common sense laws would have alerted authorities to this man’s actions. Just common sense gun laws, not designed to completely disarm the public, but as basic safety precautions that any civilization hoping to live in some sense of peace absolutely must have, would have prevented this tragedy before it ever began.
These fifty-nine people did not have to die. Five hundred twenty people did not have to be injured. This was avoidable. This is our fault for not demanding better.
The NRA is a public lobbyist for gun companies. Their interest is not in your “rights” but in sales. They want to boost the sales of guns and ammunition. Once upon a time they advocated for gun responsibility and firearm safety education. Today they are pushing bigger and more powerful guns on the public like drug dealers. They have spun an advertising campaign which has duped a large swath of the population, laughing all the way to the bank. They promote scare tactics and false flags of attacks against your freedom to encourage you to buy more guns.
Guns are not exactly a perishable item. You don’t shoot it and throw it away. How many guns does a person actually need? Maybe a handgun for self-defense and a couple of different hunting rifles, depending on what kind of game you are after, and that is it. Then what? Who sold you on that idea of a semi-automatic? What was it for? Did they appeal to any actual purpose? And what about those enormous clips? How many times have you ever needed to shoot twenty or thirty rounds in quick succession? Honestly, if it takes you that many bullets to hit a target, you are a piece of shit shot and someone needs to take you to a firing range and give you some lessons. Who told you more is better? All these weapons weren’t always legal, you know. They weren’t always readily accessible. People couldn’t always walk through towns with semi-automatic weapons slung over their shoulder. We weren’t always so afraid to walk out the door that we thought we needed a loaded weapon at the ready. The world did not become more dangerous until we became more dangerous.
Who made you so afraid? Who baited you with fear? Who told you that you should be afraid and that you couldn’t trust the police to protect you? Who made you think the government was coming after you? Who told you that gun control laws don’t work and don’t matter because criminals will get guns anyway, despite the clear data that shows gun control laws are affective? Yeah, in case you haven’t realized it, that was the NRA.
Your freedom is not tied to an assault rifle, or an assault styled rifle, or a semi-automatic any more than it is tied to a suitcase of explosives. Those explosives are illegal, but those guns are capable of killing and injuring just as many people. Want proof? Well there are a lot of video clips from Sunday you can look at.
I am sick of hearing about your “rights.” You have the right to a firearm, but not to any weapon in the world. Why? Because those fifty-nine people who will never go home had rights, too, and their rights to life and liberty were far more important than you pretending the second amendment entitles you to weapons that have no other purpose than the mass killing of people. You aren’t entitled to a bazooka or anti-aircraft missiles, either. Some things are more dangerous mixed in the public than any inherent positive value they may have. And I simply can’t find a single positive reason for these weapons to be available to the public. Saying, “It’s my right,” isn’t a reason. It isn’t even true.
We failed these people, just like we failed Orlando, just like we failed Sandy Hook. We have a lot of failures under our belt. We have a lot of blood on our hands.
I offer my deepest sympathies for the victims, their families, friends, and a city recovering and in shock. But I will give no more moments of silence. I will not be quiet. I will not wait on grief to subside before I attack this beast, because the dead are not coming home. Because every day of inaction is a day lost. I am going to fight to help prevent this type of tragedy shattering any more lives. So I encourage you, don’t be silent. Be the voice which breaks the silence; be rallying cry as we charge this beast.
We are One Woman, One world.
Ann Lavendar Truong