I was still asleep in Colorado when the group text hit my phone. It was Uncle Craig letting us know that his son, also Craig, and his nephew Max were okay. They’re law enforcement in Las Vegas. Craig with ICE. Max with the LVMPD. They responded to the mass shooting on Sunday, October 1st.
I won’t name the shooter. He won’t receive that honor from me.
Earlier that day I received a text message from Meredith. She was helping William put together his “all about me” board for his 4th grade class. You can send in pictures. William picked out a shot of him with Meredith’s dad, Gramps. In the picture, William is learning to fire a .22 rifle. Meredith was wondering if it’s okay to send that photo to school. After some deliberation, and a consult with a friend, we decided it wasn’t.
A few hours later all hell breaks loose on the Las Vegas strip.
It’s never occurred to me to turn a gun on another person. I drill gun safety into William every time he picks up his bb gun. There is no room for mistakes. What happened in Vegas was no mistake. It’s an unfathomable brokenness that allows someone to aim at a crowd and squeeze the trigger.
Some of you are surprised that I let my 9-year-old shoot a gun. I get it. With everything that’s happening in our country involving gun violence we’re more sensitive than ever. But it didn’t used to be like this. We weren’t afraid. We didn’t see guns the same way. My father-in-law grew up in a family that hunted. Guns were part of life. He grew to be a keen marksman and a member of the Olympic team. He’s never considered a gun as a means of justice or form of expression. Neither have his siblings. He used to walk down the street with his rifle in its case on his way to practice. He’d take it on the bus to get there. Can you imagine what would happen if you saw that today? The same thing that would happen if a 9-year-old brought a picture of himself target shooting into school the morning after a mass shooting. Or any day, nowadays.
I’m not saying all this violence is okay. It rends my heart to read the accounts. What I’m saying is that we are in trouble. This is no way to live. When a picture can incite fear. And country music fans can bleed out in the streets.
Yet, this is the America you and I live in.