Now more than a week after the tragic shooting which happened at a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, I feel that I can finally write about it. Originally, I wasn’t going to post about it as so many people have already put in their two penneth worth of thoughts regarding the terrible tragedy. As usual, things like this send my Asperger’s mind into hyper-drive for a number of reasons. The main one is being accused of jumping on the bandwagon along with everyone else who has an opinion on it. I’m not jumping on anything, I’m just exercising my right to share my thoughts and opinions on what happened. There’s also the opportunity to use the tragedy in shamelessly promoting my book, “He Was Weird.” Yes, it’s a great opportunity but it’s too soon to do it now. Maybe when wounds have healed, I might make comparisons to this shooting and the one in my book but not now. Again, it’s just a maybe.
What strikes me is every time something like this happens, most of the same old tired arguments and cliches come out. It did with Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and even Columbine. We get people saying, “We need tougher gun laws.” “We can’t let this happen again, yada yada yada.” Then we get groups like the National Rifle Association screaming blue murder how any mass shooting isn’t a reason to take away their second amendment rights, the right to bear arms. These are the main battle lines between the two camps and everything else is merely an offshoot of them. Still, I think most people get fed up with hearing the same anecdotes.
As an American living in the UK, I have a third anxiety to contend with. When a mass shooting happens in America, the British stereotype of how all Americans are a bunch of gun nuts come out. Opinions of how backward the NRA is and how every American has an Uzi under their beds manifest themselves. At every shooting, the UK media goes on and on about the American gun culture. What many people in the UK fail to realize is that there are as many, if not more Americans who want to control guns, want to ban automatic weapons and toughen up the gun laws. The problem is that they aren’t nearly as organized as the NRA nor do they have as much money. At least not enough to have politicians in their pockets. I’m an American, I have never owned a gun. I was issued an M16 when I was in the marines but when not actually using the weapon, my rifle was locked in an armoury along with all the others. I am certainly NOT a gun nut. In fact, one mistake I made (and yes I’m making reference to my book) in “He Was Weird” was when news of the shooting spread overseas, I didn’t have the British media make as much out of it as they would have in actuality. Silly me.
So, what to do now? I made a suggestion a long time ago which makes even more sense now, in light of what happened in Las Vegas. While everyone is debating whether America needs new or tougher gun laws, let’s start enforcing the gun laws already on the statutes. I repeat my question from that ancient post: What’s the point of having a law if it’s not being enforced? You might as well not have it at all. If gun laws are properly enforced, we might see less gun crime and fewer mass shootings. If stricter enforcement doesn’t bring about change, then we can talk about tightening up or enacting new gun laws. While mass shootings and gun crime will never be fully eradicated, their occurrences would be fewer and that for me is a good start.