Like many of you, we here at The Kugelmass Episodes have been thinking about the Las Vegas Strip Shooting of 2017, a horrific tragedy that must never happen again. But how can we prevent such acts of violence from happening again? Suppose, for example, we banned automatic weapons. That would only take automatic weapons out of the hands of the law-abiding citizens who really need them. (I don’t personally know anyone who needs an automatic weapon, but obviously somebody does, or they would be illegal.) Plus, banning guns is a slippery slope. A well-regulated militia — that’s an old American term for large groups of gun owners, decorous folks who favor collective action — is an essential defense against tyranny. Right now, thanks to our rigorous lack of gun control, the American people could fight back if our government fell into the wrong hands. (In other words, if we were ruled by some kind of hate-filled, lying demagogue who wasn’t elected by a majority of voters.) Now I admit that it would take a lot of skill to out-shoot the armed forces, especially since America is a nuclear power. But rest assured, ordinary Americans could do it.
So let’s not get carried away speculating pointlessly about gun control. I propose a different solution: concert control. This would not be a simple endeavor. It would comprise a simultaneous two-pronged approach. First of all, it’s pretty obvious that huge outdoor concerts are a bad idea. Ask yourself: have you ever gone to a huge outdoor concert where you didn’t want to shoot someone after a while? Of course not. We’re talking about precisely the kind of concerts where somebody hoists his girlfriend on his shoulders, right in front of you, so you can’t see a damn thing. Furthermore, the headliner is always Ariana Grande, Jason Aldean, or somebody else equally annoying. Large outdoor concerts are single-handedly responsible for Woodstock, Burning Man (whatever the hell that is), “mosh pits,” and the idea that Indio, CA is hospitable to human life.
Next, we’d place a ban on sweaty little venues playing live or recorded music in tightly enclosed spaces. Pulse, the Orlando nightclub where a mass killing took place, was always a mass killing waiting to happen. Let’s just admit it. Same goes for the packed club where the Eagles of Death Metal were playing, in Paris. That warehouse in Oakland just caught on fire and collapsed of its own accord. So blaming guns for what happened in Orlando is obviously misguided.
Admittedly, there was also a mass shooting at a baseball field. But that was a cultural thing. We live in a culture where people drag their petty political opinions onto the sacred green — for example, by protesting the national anthem. No wonder, then, that James Hodgkinson saw a bunch of lawmakers on the field that day, and not a simple gang of ballplayers trying to get in their nine innings.
Now I am not optimistic. I know what’s going to happen: there are going to be even more large outdoor concerts, on the theory that the people of the United States will not be intimidated into not seeing Jason Aldean. All of these concerts will emphasize the importance of healing, the importance of solidarity, and the importance of the song “Hey Now, Hey Now (Don’t Dream It’s Over)” by Crowded House. Nobody will get shot, because most of the time, nobody does. And meanwhile nothing will be done to keep large crowds out of the hands of the shooters who want to fire into them at random.
Donald Trump tweeted his “warmest condolences” to the families of those affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas. Isn’t that nice? His warmest condolences! I’d like to add that I hope they all have very merry funerals. But, in the midst of our grief, I beg you to remember that it takes more than a gun for an atrocity to occur. It takes a person who can be shot, and we have been remiss in continuing to allow such targets free rein. Stephen Paddock’s collection of rifles and ammunition should never have been put in harm’s way.