If not for the courage of the first responders and the heroism of private citizens such as Jonathan Smith, a 30-year-old father of three visiting Las Vegas from California, the “deadliest mass shooting in modern American history” could have been worse. Much worse.
Thank God Mr. Smith went to Vegas. He helped 30 people escape the hurricane of gunfire on Oct. 1 before he was hit in the neck and miraculously survived.
Time for action
Now the United States Congress must follow in Mr. Smith’s selfless footsteps. Doing nothing means more death.
The numbers from the desert are mind-boggling, soul-numbing and will likely grow in the coming days: at least 59 dead and more than 500 wounded and injured in the carnage.
Our fervent prayers and heartfelt condolences are not enough. What we owe the victims of the slaughter on the Strip is action; fierce, committed, sustained action.
We must not only demand sensible gun control laws; we must fight for them. The lives of our children and the future of our country depend on it.
So far this year, nearly 530 men, women and children have been murdered in Chicago. The vast majority of the killings involved guns, which in some part of the city are easier to obtain than a bag of groceries.
No one needs or should have 42 powerful firearms as the terrorist in Las Vegas did, holed up in a room on the 32nd floor of a resort hotel on a Sunday night, raining down death and destruction on a country music festival through two broken windows. The shooter had 23 guns in his room and authorities discovered 19 additional weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the killer’s Nevada home.
The massacre in Vegas is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. With such easy access to guns of all kinds, it is not likely to hold the record for long.
Just last year, the deadliest mass shooting in America occurred in Orlando, when 49 people were gun downed at the Pulse nightclub. The killer used an assault rifle.
Let Congress know
In honor of the victims of gun violence in Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando and across the country, we the people should flood Congress with letters, emails, text, tweets, telephone calls, our marching feet, until our elected representatives do their most important job – protect the American people from enemies foreign and domestic.
We must register and vote in vast numbers for thorough background checks, expanding mental health services and a ban on assault weapons.
Jonathan Smith won’t always be there to help.
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. is president and CEO of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Click on this commentary at www.daytonatimes.com to write your own response.