I have been avoiding this post like the plague, mostly because I didn’t want to write out all of my thoughts, get upset all over again, and then realize that just my voice is unfortunately NOT going to make a difference regarding this major national issue.
But, here I am anyway.
October 1, 2017. Both my boyfriend and I were just getting over really bad colds, but we had tickets with my family to one of the first home games for our new NHL team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. We took our meds, and actually experienced one of the best memories of my entire life that evening.
And then, not an hour later, experienced one of the worst. The Biggest Mass Shooting in Modern American History.
We were flying on a game-high after winning, and Isaac and I decided to take a victory stroll before heading to our car. We were on a keto cheat week, so ice cream was on the brain. We headed out of T-Mobile, walked down the Park, stopped for a beer, and kept walking to find some ice cream. Passed NYNY, and decided to keep walking a bit further. Heard the crowd over at Route 91 Harvest country music festival across the street. Remembered I had lots of friends there- either working it or enjoying the music. I gushed to Isaac, “I still love coming down the strip 20 years later. I love this city more than anything. The vibrancy, the music, the food, the atmosphere…” I literally yelled, “I LOVE LAS VEGAS!!!!”
We walked a bit, looked at the crowds everywhere, then each other, and something just didn’t feel right for either of us- our meds had worn off and our bodies were still fighting our silly colds. After being so gung-ho about finding ice cream, we decided neither of us were feeling it anymore, and decided to head back to our car, and stop for IN-N-OUT milkshakes instead. That was at 10:02. The shooting began at approx 10:08.
We walked back to our cars, chatting away, and hopped in at 10:09. (I had been texting family, so I was able to go back and time-check the events leading up.) We were (probably) just walking into the parking garage when the gunman started firing his murder-machine. We somehow didn’t even hear it, which completely boggles my mind. I assume it's because we were in a concrete parking garage, or maybe we even heard what sounded like fireworks and thought nothing of it. (Happens in Vegas all the time.) We don't remember hearing a thing, and had absolutely no idea what was going on just one block away.
As we are driving on Tropicana, staring out the window, heading into IN-N-OUT, we see a serious amount of police cars zooming passed us, and we both immediately thought, “typical Vegas weekend…” not realizing that I was staring directly at the location of a gunman raining bullets onto my friends and hundreds of other people.
I got onto Twitter while we were in line at In-N-Out for some reason, which is weird because I RARELY go on it these days, and I actually saw the very first tweet about the shooting. I read what was happening in real time, while stuck at a drive-through down the street. A place we were walking toward not 5 minutes before it started, but “for no real reason” decided to turn around. We kept refreshing the feed on the entire drive home. It didn't hit TV stations for a bit- we finished our burgers and then the news reports started coming in.
Fast forward a few hours, and I was glued to the TV. I wanted to go back and help, but obviously knew that wasn’t smart. I called a few of my best friends- and started receiving a bombardment of messages from concerned family and friends. I was texting one friend who was at the Paris Hotel, and people were screaming, running, and trampling over others. She was texting me in broken sentences... "think there's a gunman... I'm pregnant... I can't get trampled... my baby... so scared... people falling to the ground...." it was a nightmare. One of my best friends had staff working the event, texting her, "the girl next to me just got shot." The death toll kept rising. 5 people…8…15… it was all so confusing, so scary, and didn’t seem real at all.
We finally were able to fall asleep around 4:30 in the morning after forcing myself to take a xanex. I woke up at 8am with a notification on my phone from a local news station. Death toll raises to 57 and thousands injured.
I shrieked. I woke up Isaac and we ran downstairs to turn on the TV. I couldn't believe what I saw.
The next few days were a blur- but a blur surrounded by some of the best people. The entertainment community put together a huge emergency funds drive the next day- October 2. The amount of entertainers, friends, family that showed up was inspiring. I collected Venmo money from friends and family out of state who wanted to contribute, and would run to the drugstore to stock up on quality supplies. Multiple trips, back and forth.
We filled an entire semi-truck. On October 3, we woke up early and kept the donations flowing in. I had so many people reach out asking to help, it was overwhelming.
The way that I realized I cope with a traumatic situation is to dive in and DO THINGS. It didn’t even “hit” me that I had friends in the hospital, or that I was across the street when it went down, or anything personal until almost a week later. I just… woke up, and started moving. Not thinking. Just doing. And, so did so many others I know.
If there is a single positive about the biggest mass shooting in modern American history happening in my hometown, it’s that the people of Las Vegas stepped up. They stepped up in a way that was recognized all over the globe. We raised $11.48 million dollars in a week. No family went hungry. Casinos opened their rooms to the thousands coming in to visit their family members. Our hospitals were at capacity, and everyone was treated. First responders worked days in a row without sleep.
If there was ever a city that was able to “handle” this sort of thing, I can now think of two- New York City (9-11), and Las Vegas. And I couldn’t be more proud to have grown up in a place that, false opinions aside, has some of the best people.
Now, I have to mention, I’m writing this on the 1 month anniversary of the shooting, and you’d think by now we would have more answers and less questions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Theories are starting to come up about this man being “involved” (assumingly not-knowing) with ATF. Lawsuits are forming. People are leaving the hospital and returning back to their never-the-same-again lives. The bump-stock ban was reinstated TODAY.
**EDIT- a few months later, as I'm about to post this, the LVMPD released a Preliminary Report on all of the details they've gathered for the public so far. They're working their tails off. The amount of information (hundreds of thousands of hours of footage) they're having to sift through is mind boggling. They have not determined any diagnosed mental or medical issues. They believe he was of "sound mind"- he thought meticulously and precisely about the entire event. And yet, still, people aren't in agreement.
Why is it, in this day and age, our response to these tragedies is always, “things like this are just gonna happen…”? Why do people against the ban of firearms start blaming the lack of mental illness care? Why do the people for the ban on firearms have a hard time recognizing that it’s “not just that simple”?
Simple or not, our country needs a solution. In my opinion, I think the bump-stock ban was only the first step in fixing this mess…. And it was reinstated, just a month after. That alone boggles my mind. The website that sells these alteration pieces thanked their “loyal customers” for being “patient throughout this process” … like people were put in some sort of uncomfortable or frustrating situation. I’m sorry, but this “process” is actually the biggest modern American mass shooting, and your equiptment helped facilitate it. It needs to be gone. Now.
But I digress…
Or, actually, no I don’t. I’m really starting to get deeply worried about the divide in our country. Our Constitution was created and instated 228 years ago, in order to create ORDER and unity in our country. We didn’t have a Navy, a Post Office, paved roads, etc until this document was formed. There is no way someone can honestly believe that our country, which is founded on these principles, has not changed rapidly and drastically. Actually, almost every single thing about our country has been changed and adjusted in these last two centuries- technology, marriage rights, equality, land purchasing and agreements, financial institutions, education…. almost EVERYTING.
What is the possible argument someone could have to justify keeping these laws the exact same, when everything else about our country has changed? The purpose of “the right to bear arms” was to prevent the new Federal Government, established in 1789, from disarming the state militias and replacing them with a Federal Army. It was a concern that was relevant for just a few years around the BIRTH of our country. It is not relevant today. We as Americans don’t rely on state militias for our freedom from the federal government.
That being said, I am also not naïve enough to think that we can go knocking on everyone’s doors and asking for their guns. I think there are hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, smart gun- owners. However, there needs to be a seriously thought-out monitoring system, maximum purchase amount (just like pharmaceudical companies place on medications), harder mental comprehension tests, stricter renewals, etc. It’s just TOO. EASY. Stephen Paddock had purchased 40+ weapons in the last few years. That is unacceptable. Sure, one "does the job"... but the more you buy, the easier it becomes.
That’s the problem here. People are angry because it’s just TOO EASY to start a mass shooting these days. Yes, there will unfortunately be more of these horrific events. Yes, many of them will have unstable emotional or psychological issues. But this should have NEVER been an EASY thing to accomplish. And…. It was.
I feel like people always attempt the easiest/path of least resistance. It’s time to make criminals work really really hard to be criminals. Does anyone DISAGREE with that? No? Okay… so now what? Would love to hear your constructive, thought-provoking comments below. :)