I saw my first live concert in 1996. It was the Spice Girls at Jones Beach on Long Island and it’s an experience I’ll never forget; one of my earliest true, complete memories. I have been a regular attendee of concerts and, for the sake of argument, Sporting Events, ever since. Some (my boyfriend) might argue that I see more live events per year than any average person does or should. My concert-ticket spending problem is real. And, like any addiction, the reason is simply because I need it.
Some people have drugs or alcohol, some people have church. Live music brings ease to my soul, however fleeting.
I’ve seen the Spice Girls. I’ve seen Justin Timberlake. I’ve seen Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park and Korn. I’ve seen Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg, Blake Shelton, Dead and Company, Billy Joel and Paul McCartney. Taking Back Sunday and Rick Ross. The Dropckick Murphys and Jason Derulo. Antiflag and also The Charlie Daniels Band. I’ve attended CMA Fest in Nashville. I’ve seen Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Jake Owen and Cole Swindell more times than I can keep track of. I’ve been to seven separate Zac Brown Band Concerts over the past 5 summers. Seven.
As I said, I’ve been attending concerts religiously for more than 20 years. That’s longer than I’ve ever done anything consistently aside from eat, breathe and shit. My mind, regularly riddled with anxiety, has never once stopped to consider that I might not be safe in this crowd of like-minded fans, swaying singing and screaming – filled with unabashed joy. On the train to and from events? Terrified. In the event of a drunken fisticuffs nearby? Uncomfortable. But within the concert venue, never uneasy or unsafe. It’s a post-9/11 world – I’ve been metal detected and scanned 3 separate times. I had to throw my vodka water bottle out at the gate. I’ve got no worries.
Until May of 2017.
Shortly after the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, my cousin approached me and asked me if I thought his newly-teenage daughter was old enough to see Fall Out Boy at Madison Square Garden with a group of friends. I saw my first Fall Out Boy show with my friends when I was 14. I attended my first Rangers game at The Garden even earlier. This new teenager is a city native and, on paper, nowhere in the world should be safer than Madison Square Garden. Her parents would undoubtedly be waiting at the doors following the concert, guiding her lovingly back to Brooklyn. But, my heart ached as I hesitated.
Could a parent save her if some psychopath decided to repeat the Manchester attack on US Soil? No, probably not. But I know at 14 (and even now at 26) having my parent present during a moment of chaos and abject terror would provide some small level of comfort.
“Eh, I would wait a few more years, probably” I told him.
And then, what felt like moments later, some insane human being opened fire in Las Vegas on a crowd of Country Music Fans, much like myself. A crowd of my peers: my friends and family, just there to see a show; to sing and sway and scream and let go of this living nightmare of a world for a few days. As a result, 59 people are gone forever and hundreds, if not thousands of lives are permanently different than they were before.
I moped through the day after Las Vegas with sadness and fear. How does this keep happening? My thoughts have been echoed over and over again within my own social media bubble, but I would keep quiet this time, I thought. I’m 26 years old and I’ve lived through 3 separate “Deadliest shootings in US History”: Virginia Tech, Orlando and now, Las Vegas. The death toll just keeps increasing and nothing happens. This is, apparently, just our new normal. I’m so tired of thinking and praying and sending love to cities and victims and families. Why isn’t someone doing more? Why can’t we stop them from dying senselessly?
If Sandy Hook didn’t change anything, why would Las Vegas? Patton Oswalt begged of twitter.
“Now’s not the time to talk about Gun control”
“Don’t politicize this tragedy!” They cried from The Right.
But, if not now, when? What is the suitable amount of time after a tragedy to address the solution? Because we don’t go more than a few weeks between anymore.
Speaking up is hopeless.
I went about the next day as normal. I dragged myself out of bed and gazed upon the face of Michael Strahan on Good Morning America as I drank my coffee and got ready to leave for work. Business as usual.
And then, Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, two of my favorite morning people, launched into a segment about the challenges of “Preventing Future Massacres”. It sounded just like the conversation we’ve been having for years. In the wake of tragedies like Manchester and Las Vegas, what are the extra steps Police and security can take to make sure citizens are safe? Dump trucks full of sand to stop cars from plowing into crowds? Snipers on roofs of nearby buildings to take out the shooter before they cause maximum damage? Guns in classrooms? How can we police these “soft targets”?
Do you know what would not make me feel less anxious while gathered en masse? Visible snipers.
Well, I thought sarcastically to myself, Concerts aren’t guaranteed by the constitution so to save lives, maybe we should just stop having concerts. Because we’re sure as shit not going to stop selling guns that can kill 59 people in the matter of minutes, apparently.
Then I realized I had no audience to my witty observation. And I was infuriated. My blood began to boil. Why does utter failure by Congress to do their job result in more work for first responders, who are already risking their lives every day and continued danger every single day for the American people? Nowadays, you’re almost as likely to be killed by gun violence as you are by a traffic accident. Why isn’t the only reasonable solution left to take away the fucking guns?
Calm down, BillyJoe. You want to go hunting on the weekends with your bros? I won’t be joining you but I respect your right to do so. However, if you need an AK47 to put down that 9 point buck for your creepy trophy wall, you suck at hunting and (I don’t like using this word as an insult but it’s the only one that fits) you’re a pussy. Also, just FYI if you don’t eat what you kill, you’re a garbage human.
You feel the need to protect your home? Yep, I’m with you. My dad has protected our family home for as long as we’ve been there with a single rifle that’s safely tucked away in a gun safe where, honestly, I couldn’t find it if I was literally under attack. I am 26 and I’ve seen it fewer than five times in my life.
If you feel like you need an M16 to protect your home, I advise you move. Or build a moat. What kind of threat are you under?
If you really, really want one M16 because you think it’s cool – I have a lot of questions, but ya know what? If you can answer all my questions reasonably, pass a thorough background check regardless of where you’re purchasing it and prove you’re not violent or mentally ill, ok. But I’m gonna say you definitely don’t need more than one.
If you’re legally not allowed to fly or vote (looking at you, convicted Felons), you probably also shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun.
When the founders of our Country wrote the 2nd amendment, Guns fired one round at a time. You had to lug your cannon and musket to war by foot. Up hill. Both ways. They could not have foreseen this. This is not an original argument, I know you’ve heard it before.
There will still be illegal guns, you say? Gun control isn’t the answer? Why not knife control? Lots of people are stabbed to death, you say?
- I’ve never seen a knife take down 59 people from across the street in the matter of minutes. If that comes up, we can definitely talk about regulating knives, as well.
- I don’t know if you guys remember a time before we legislated the amount of toothpaste that could be brought on an airplane, but we’re doing our damnedest to police that, aren’t we? And, by that argument, why even have any laws? People are always going to break laws. Yes. That’s why we have a judicial system and prison. But why are we just not making any attempt when it comes to firearms regulation?
This is not a planned out, organized and researched proposal for a solution. It’s a lot of feelings and a lot of sound logic. It’s just a call to someone to do anything. And, if you think owning these guns are your God given right but healthcare is a privilege, please open your eyes. What are we doing?
PS That constitution you care so deeply about protecting the sanctity of, apparently, was written in protest. When our Founding Fathers disavowed a flag and a government that had kept them opressed politically, socially and financially. Just a reminder.