“It’s an act of pure evil,” the US President Donald Trump told the world following a night of carnage at a Las Vegas country music festival on Sunday.
A lone gunman, in a hotel room 32 stories high, fired bullets down upon a crowd of 22,000 through two smashed windows.
He used at least 10 rifles, either automatic or rigged to be so, to kill at least 58 people and injure more than 500 others.
He turned one upon himself as police stormed the room.
Hours before Caleb Keeter, a guitarist for the Texas-based Josh Abbott Band, was on stage at the same festival.
Keeter had been a “proponent of the second amendment” his whole life.
Not today. Not anymore.
“Writing my parents and the love of my life a goodbye last night and a living will because I felt like I wasn’t going to live through the night was enough for me to realise that this is completely and totally out of hand,” Keeter posted to Twiter this morning.
“We need gun control RIGHT. NOW. My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realise it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it. We are unbelievably fortunate to not be among the number of victims killed or seriously wounded by this maniac.”
— Caleb Keeter (@Calebkeeter) October 2, 2017
President Trump’s administration keeps saying today is “not the time to talk about gun law reforms” with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling media this morning: “There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is a time to unite as a country.”
Nelba Márquez-Greene has heard this before.
In 2012, Márquez-Greene’s six-year-old daughter was killed when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. She knows first hand the frustration and heartache that comes with watching the US government grieve and “unite” following a mass shooting, and then change nothing to prevent the same thing happening again.
“This is on every congressperson who said in ‘13: ‘There is simply nothing we could do’,” the grieving mother tweeted in response to the Las Vegas massacre this morning.
“In America we value guns, flags and fake acts of patriotism over people, pain and real acts of courage,” she continued.
“You don’t recover from this – as a mother, brother, father. You manage. But there is no recovery. I am heartbroken.”
Fully automatic weapons (except for those inherited) have been prohibited in the United States since 1986.
Semi-automatic rifles, however, are legal - except for in New Jersey and California - and these can be rigged to fire just as fast and as easily as an automatic weapon.
For just a couple of hundred dollars, gun owners can order attachments, called bump stocks, that repeatedly pull the trigger on a semi-automatic weapon to enable accurate and "controlled rapid firing".
According to an article in Guns America these stocks are a "solution" that enables one to "shoot as fast as they want to", whether it's "one round, two rounds, 15 rounds or a full magazine".
How, why, in what world, are these still legal?
— Khary Penebaker (@kharyp) October 2, 2017
Silencers - more accurately labelled 'suppressors', which reduce the sound of a gun as it fires - represent another issue, currently in front of congress.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is behind a new bill, the Hearing Protection Act, which would remove restrictions over the use of silencers in order to protect the hearing of those who use guns in a firing range or for hunting.
Former Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton slammed the bill in a tweet this morning in her reaction to the Las Vegas attack.
"The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots," she tweeted this morning. "Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get."
The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots.
Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 2, 2017
When asked about Clinton's tweet during the White House press conference, Sanders said she didn't think the use of a suppressor would have changed the outcome of the Las Vegas shooting - a claim that has since been backed up by former CIA officer Buck Sexton as well as (predictably) NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, the New York Post reports.
"It's very easy for Mrs. Clinton to criticize and to come out, but I think we need to remember the only person with blood on their hands is that of the shooter," Sanders told reporters, before going onto say "today is a day for consoling the survivors and mourning those we lost"... not a day for policy talk.
But, why? Why not today?
What better motivation is there for making guns and their attachments and their silencers illegal, than the horror and the grief and the heartbreak of losing 58 people, possibly more?
As the President and his staff send their "thoughts and prayers" to the families of those who were killed, Americans and people around the world are angry.
— Duke Skymocker (@DukeSkymocker) October 2, 2017
How many times do we need to hear the words "biggest mass shooting in US history"?
How many times must we sit through a day and watch the death toll rise and rise due to one madman armed with a weapon that shouldn't be legal?
How many times will we watch the US Government 'empathise' for its people, while doing nothing to stop the same thing happening again?
The mindset of one man - guitarist Caleb Keeter who used to be a "proponent of the second amendment" - was changed last night.
We can only hope he wasn't the only one.
Do you think there's any solution to the US' gun problems? Let us know in the comments...