What the Las Vegas shooting means for America

Katie Jain, Contributing Writer

Picture laughter. Dancing. Music. Joy. Now, picture the laughter turning into screams, the dancers suddenly crumpling to the ground, the music becoming the sound of gunfire, and the joy melting out of the scene. According to the New York Times, there were at least 59 dead, and nearly 500 injured. October 1, 2017, Las Vegas: the deadliest mass shooting to take place in modern American history.

Just after 10 pm, during a Harvest Country music festival, Stephen Paddock opened fire from his hotel window on the crowd below. After committing the mass shooting, Paddock fatally wounded himself. Later, policemen found 23 semi-automatic guns in his room, some of which were mounted on tripods At least 12 of them were modified with a “bump stock” – a part which allowed Paddock to fire faster than otherwise possible.

One would expect the man who committed such a terrible act to have a reason; perhaps he was consumed by his strong beliefs, or was insane. Interestingly enough, Paddock was neither. According to his neighbors and family, Paddock was usually calm and had no serious political views. He was a high stakes gambler, rich off the real-estate business, who essentially lived in his hotel room. At 64 years of age, he had no criminal history and was not considered violent, although his father was a bank-robber and spent Paddock’s childhood years in jail.

This is not just news; this is not just another event to see in the newspaper. This tragedy shows us something deeper about today’s America. All it took was one person’s decision, and 59 lives were lost. Was this decision his to make? Were those people’s lives Paddock’s to take? Did he have the right to take so many strangers he had no vendetta against away from their friends and family? In this day and age, this almost appears to have become the decision of anyone who owns a gun. Should anyone be allowed to buy these tools that can take another’s life so easily?

Sandy Hook, Orlando, and now Las Vegas. I believe these shootings are the fault of the mentality that guns are used more positively than negatively and of the idea that we have a right to these tools that in the wrong hands can be used to bring about death. By enabling people to sell these weapons, we are enabling them to kill. Unfortunately, the deaths in Las Vegas are not the first, nor will they be the last at the hand of this instrument of destruction. I believe it is important to fight gun violence, and fight for peace.