My fiancé woke me up early on the morning of October 1st. I could tell by his face there was something wrong. He tried to break the news gently, “there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas last night. You should probably mark yourself as safe and check on everyone you know.” I was afraid; Las Vegas is my hometown.
After texting and calling my friends and family to check on their well-being, I repeatedly scrolled Facebook to check on people I had not heard from yet. Around 9am, I checked social media and discovered that all of my friends of whom I was aware were at the concert had made it safely through the night. Around noon, I learned that Quinton Robbins, a boy I did not know personally but was part of the L.D.S. community, had passed away. And then around 3pm, I learned that a friend of mine was in the hospital; she had been shot.
Laced throughout my anxious scrolling was an intense feeling of helplessness and urgency. I was 400 miles away from home, but I needed to do something. These feelings heightened to anger throughout the following weeks as lawmakers unproductively argued over solutions.
Because of my experience, I can understand why David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Florida school shooting told lawmakers, “We’re children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together, come over your politics and get something done.” He was outraged. As a result, he turned to the government for solutions, and motivated students nationwide to follow suit.
As a conservative myself, it is not my “natural” reaction to turn to the government for solutions. However, a government that allows easy access to bump stocks and guns to disturbed individuals is callous, negligent, and immoral. While the U.S. Constitution includes the Second Amendment, it also includes a commitment to “[insuring] domestic tranquility” which cannot be achieved with such open gun laws. Even President Nelson acknowledges this, saying, “God allows us to have our agency, and men have passed laws that allow guns to go to people who shouldn’t have them.”
Thankfully, it seems that lawmakers from both sides are finally working together for viable solutions. Several gun control measures have been proposed by President Trump such as arming teachers, having better background checks, outlawing bump stocks, and limiting high-capacity magazines. While Democrats further propose universal background checks, Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer approved of President Trump’s proposals saying, “I’d like to give credit where due: The president said a lot of things right yesterday.”
In Florida, lawmakers from both sides voted together in passing a $400 million gun control bill. Republicans proposed arming teachers; Democrats were understandably hesitant. And so, they compromised: only librarians, counselors and coaches would be armed. Although the thought of my meek high school librarian packing a Glock seems ridiculous, it is encouraging to see both sides working together.
In a personal conversation I had with Senator Dean Heller (R, Nevada), he gave two examples of bipartisan gun legislation, in the tone of those mentioned here, that he believes will pass. One is a bipartisan bill in the Connecticut legislature that is likely to pass; and the other of these proposals is a bipartisan Senate bill that has the support of Senator Orrin Hatch (R, Utah). I do not know which if any of the legislative agendas mentioned here will be signed into law, I am just glad to see evidence of a commitment to change on both sides of the aisle.
Although we are still harrowed by the tragedies in Las Vegas, Parkland and elsewhere, not everything is as bleak as it seems. Students across the nation are marching together, and lawmakers are working together. And my friend who was shot in Las Vegas? She is recovering well, and even made it to my wedding, albeit on crutches.
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