By Silas Maxwell Switzer
In my 15 years of life, I have witnessed the headline “Largest Mass Shooting in America” scroll across TV screens over seven times. Twice that I can truly recall, both in the span of the last year and a half. Orlando. Las Vegas.
Music, a gunshot, run for your life. This is what a crowd of 22,000 people at the Route 91 Harvest Festival experienced on October 1, 2017. Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire with 23 firearms on the crowd at the Jason Aldean concert at the Mandalay Bay Resort. After the shooting, he shot himself in his hotel room. Paddock was an amateur golfer and a professional gambler. His motive has not been identified.
Stephen Paddock had accumulated a total of 42 firearms as well as explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition and still was on no radar. He remained entirely obscured from the view of the NRA, the police, the law. Gun control could have barred him from buying this many weapons—saved lives and liberties, saved people from loss and pain.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” These words were written when the maximum amount of bullets that a gun could hold before reloading was 30. Today, an AR-15, the generally favored assault rifle, can hold up to 100 rounds before a reload. When the second amendment was originally passed, it was impossible for one person to kill 58 people and injure hundreds more in nine minutes. The amendment is old enough that it is no longer relevant to the caliber of weapons produced today. Those who cling to the second amendment refuse to acknowledge that there were more mass shootings than days in the USA in 2015, 2016, and 2017, according to the online mass shooting tracker. They refuse to acknowledge that this could have been prevented. It can be.
Let me ask you this: Do you think it’s okay for 58 people to be dead in nine minutes? 527 injured? Hundreds more running for their lives? There is only one easily accessible form of weapon that can cause this kind of terror, and that’s what gun control stops—innocent people from dying at a country music festival. Don’t you understand? It’s not the terrorists/immigrants/”crazies”; it was a local resident. You may have known him, interacted with him, laughed with him.
In nine minutes, 58 lives were lost. No one specific, no one was singled out; it was random. Someone was allowed to have 23 firearms to indiscriminately take out people at a country concert. No one needs an assault rifle. For anything. Period. I understand that you want to protect yourself from the robber that might enter your house at any moment. Get a handgun, get an alarm system, get a dog. No one needs an assault rifle. Now I want you to think: 58 people, nine minutes. How much do you care?
About the Author
Silas Maxwell Switzer is a musician, poet, and activist and member of the LGBTQ+ youth community. He is President of Obama Academy’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance and also serves as Vice President of a youth Global Peace organization. A sophomore honors student at Obama Academy, he plans to study law and advocacy upon graduation.