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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 18, 2017

Las Vegas massacre stories reflect need for policy change

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News | Oct 06, 2017

In the days following the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, a steady stream of the stories from victims and survivors has populated my Twitter feed. The only way to truly put into words a tragedy like this is by letting those who survived it speak for themselves.

Sunday night’s shooting left 58 dead and more than 500 injured at the Route 91 Harvest on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nev. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, fired semi-automatic rifles into the crowd of concertgoers from his 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

After visiting Las Vegas on Oct. 4, first lady Melania Trump tweeted, “Yesterday’s visit to Las Vegas was both somber & uplifting. Those lost will never be forgotten. #VegasStrong.”

That is the sentiment I gather when reading the stories heroes of Las Vegas have been brave enough to share with the world. From our own home state, Dr. Michael and Sara Luft, of Ida Grove, shared the horror they witnessed after they spent the weekend attending the harvest festival.

Michael and Sara thought the gunshots were fireworks at first, when a man who had served two tours in Afghanistan informed them otherwise, the Sioux City Journal reported.

In the midst of the panic, Michael and Sara listened to the former soldier’s instructions, running when he ran, crawling on their stomachs at his direction. As doctors, Sara said their “professional instincts kicked in,” and Michael said that as a nurse practitioner, “Sarah kept trying to help people,” the Luft’s said in an interview with the Sioux City Journal.

A woman from Cedar Rapids who was also attending the Las Vegas concert was finishing dinner at a restaurant when a “tidal wave of people passed by,” Lori Pankey said in an interview with The Gazette.

“The part that sticks out is just the way that people came together and helped each other. … There are a lot of faces I will remember forever,” Leah Schneider, of Cedar Rapids, said in an interview with The Gazette.

If survivors can tell these stories of hope, we should listen, and not let their tragedy — and the tragedy of our nation — pass by absent-mindedly.

Chris Murphy, former congressman for Newtown, Conn., where a gunman opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, killing 20 children and 6 teachers, wrote in the Washington Post his reflection on Las Vegas. Murphy wrote that he woke up Monday morning after the shooting hoping that this would be the one to persuade the U.S. to “reclaim the mantle of global leadership that has been at our core since our origin.”

Murphy claims that mass shootings are uniquely an American problem, and if they are an American problem, there’s a uniquely American solution.

“On awful, gut-churning days such as Monday, I find it important to remind myself that mass shootings happen almost nowhere else but the United States,” Murphy wrote. “As we become normalized to the regular pace of massive, execution-style killings — Sandy Hook, Charleston, Orlando and now Las Vegas — it’s critical to understand that the Groundhog Day phenomenon of horrific mass shootings is exclusive to the United States.”

Murphy goes on to argue that our response to “regular mass slaughter” has been “uniquely un-American.” He writes that the path to the U.S. must reclaim the “mantle of global leadership,” and the “path to this leadership lies … in the special nature of gun violence as a political issue.”

We must do what we can to effect change. We cannot stand in the way of human lives because we see our rights as being infringed upon.

At this point in our nation’s history, it would be impossible to remove guns from our society; however, stronger regulation is still an option.

“Inherent in the rights enumerated in the Constitution is the idea that our rights can only be enjoyed by a people who values the ultimate right: the right to life,” Drew Griffin writes on RELEVANT, a leading platform in covering faith, culture and intentional living.

In other words, if the right to bear arms infringes on a person’s right to live — regardless of the argument that the gun is not evil, it’s the person behind the gun that is evil — is that really freedom?

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