On the weekend of Oct. 1, over 22,000 concert goers from across the nation shared their love of music at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas. Among the attendees was 32-year-old Michelle Vo. An agent for the New York Life Insurance Company located in Glendale, as well as a new fan of country music; Vo was absolutely exhilarated for her weekend getaway.
What initially began as a relaxing Sunday evening for Vo and thousands of others eventually turned to chaos. At approximately 10:05 p.m., 64-year-old Stephen Paddock began firing at the crowd from his 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
Her phone was shortly flooded with missed calls from worried friends and family. On her most recent Instagram post, comments came one after the other, all expressing the same concern.
“Michelle, please let us know you are okay,” said one commenter. “Quick update… we checked 2 hospitals and her hotel…no sign of her,” said another.
It wasn’t until hours later that Kody Robertson, a stranger Vo had met just hours earlier, got in touch with her family. The news came through a simple phone call.
In the midst of the horror, Vo had been instantly struck in the chest. A semi-automatic rifle, capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute, ended her life, the lives of 57 others, and left over 500 wounded.
In a matter of minutes, the United States had witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in modern history.
Michelle — a sister, a daughter, a friend, and a neighbor –– had her life senselessly taken at an occasion meant to rejoice it.
Yet again, it has left the nation’s people to confront the harsh aftermath of a mass shooting –– just like the previous, it will most likely have no effect on our country’s lack of gun control.
The unfortunate reality is that victims, once memorialized, will not serve as incentive for stricter gun regulations.
According to an organization known as the Mass Shooting Tracker, 2,246 Americans and counting have either been killed or injured in a mass shooting this year.
Action by the U.S. government, on the other hand, has had little to no effect on keeping guns from the hands of mass murderers.
Following the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 schoolchildren and 6 faculty members were brutally murdered with a military-style assault rifle, proposals for stricter gun control surfaced immediately. However, the proposed ban on assault weapons and a requirement for universal background checks in all states ultimately failed.
Introduced by Nazi Germany during World War II, assault rifles were initially designed for use in combat. Their ability to produce rapid fire is no coincidence. Semi-automatic weapons were developed for the sole purpose of committing mass murder, and serve the same purpose today.
Gun collector or gun enthusiast, it cannot be denied that the sale of assault rifles permits the continued abuse of the system. As mass shootings continue to grow in frequency, it is crucial that we remove assault weapons from the gun market.
Mass murderer Stephen Paddock used an AR-15 with a “bump-fire stock” to carry out the horrendous violence at the music festival. Bump-stock devices enable a shooter to produce automatic fire, a major factor in Paddock’s ability to induce maximum damage within a six-minute time span.
Most alarming of all is Paddock’s seemingly unrestricted ownership of 47 guns and modification devices. Whether it is an absence of federal regulation or a lack of government interest in ensuring the safety of its people, something is not quite right with this image.
The first step to battling this issue is not only up to a country’s people, who must adopt a logical perspective on the ownership of assault weapons, but to its government, who must do more to enforce stricter gun control on a federal level.
Whether it be through universal background checks or a total ban on assault rifles and bump-stock devices, as a nation, we must work as one to develop stricter gun laws that go beyond individual states.
Though owning a gun may be protected by the Second Amendment, a line must be drawn if we truly want innocent lives to be saved.
It’s as simple and as complicated as that.