Orlando. Paris. Manchester. And now, Las Vegas. In all of these cities people went out to enjoy a night of music, singing and laughter with friends, but instead were caught in the middle of shootings and bombings instead. Many of these people who went out in search of a good time would never return home again.
Two weeks ago I was in Las Vegas, enjoying the iHeartRadio Daytime Village, where a mass shooting wasn’t even something on my radar. The following weekend, people laid dying where I’d been dancing not that long ago.
I woke up the morning after the Vegas festival shootings to texts from my sister and from friends saying they were glad I wasn’t in Vegas this past weekend. My mom was shaken up, my aunt hugged me when she saw me saying she was happy I was home. And me? I was in shock. For multiple reasons. A big reason being that I had been there. Just a week prior. I had been enjoying an amazing festival with three of my friends. We had danced and sang along to the performers we flew across the country to see. We, along with a crowd of hundreds of people, went for a day of music and good times.
I had not once considered that someone could have opened fire on the festival. Not once. And now, as I sit reading the reports of chaos and death, I feel sick to my stomach that something so joyful as a concert can be turned into a horrific scene. I, myself, have been to countless concerts. Not once did I ever consider it could be shot up or that I wouldn’t return home afterwards. The people who attended the Jason Aldean concert that night most likely didn’t think that would happen either. That one man, 32 stories up in a hotel across the street, would have around 17 guns, ready to open fire on those just enjoying music and life.
Once the news coverage is over and a memorial no doubt happens, Vegas will be another statistic. It will join the ranks of previous concert shootings as well as other horrible shootings. It will go down as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
That is, until the next worst mass shooting in U.S. history happens. Just 16 months ago the Orlando night club shooting happened. 16 months ago, was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Until Vegas. It’ll be Vegas until the next one happens. And who knows where that will take place.
Concerts aren’t safe anymore. Schools aren’t safe. Movie theaters aren’t safe. Over the past decade, the list of safe places is lowering. Gun violence, shootings, bombings, all of it are becoming an integrated part of our nation. It’s not okay. It is not okay for people to go out for whatever reason only to not return home. It is not okay for families to question if their loved one will make it home after the concert or after school. It is not okay that every time this happens nothing changes.
What kind of shooting or bombing or mass killing will it take for something to change. Not only in our nation, but around the world. I am sick to my stomach every time I read there was a shooting, that people died because of some random person deciding to kill for whatever reason. It’s complicated, yes, but there has to be a way to stop it. Don’t take away the second amendment but make it harder to get guns. Run mental health checks, limit the types of gun sold in our nation, do yearly check-ins, something. The sad truth is that no one knows when or why something like this will happen, but the least we can do is try to protect ourselves for those moments.
I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that this happened. That it happened at a location where I was a week prior. That makes it all too real for me. While I was saddened and angered by the other shootings that have happened over the years, this one hit too close to home and is now becoming more of a reality in my life than I ever considered it would be. My dad always told me to be careful when I go places, that it’s not me he’s worried about but the people around me. While I made sure to always be aware, I never took that comment to heart. Now I will. But what can protect anyone from a guy, with tons of guns in a hotel room far away?
My heart, prayers and thoughts are with the city that captivated my heart when I was there a week ago.