In the wake of Sunday night's tragic mass shooting, in which a gunman opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, one performer who was in the thick of the carnage took a moment to speak out about gun control. Amid a sea of thoughts and prayers, country music guitarist Caleb Keeter tweeted about the Second Amendment, making a powerful and desperately needed statement. Keeter was with his band, the Texas-based Josh Abbott Band, when shots began ringing out, and the experience changed some of his previous, deeply-held views.
The guitarist revealed on social media that, for his whole life, he had been a big advocate of the right to bear arms, but that he was seeing things in a different light after being caught in the middle of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. In a statement he posted on his Twitter, Keeter wrote:
I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was. We actually have members of our crew with CHL [Concealed Handgun Licenses], and legal firearms on the bus. They were useless. We couldn’t touch them for fear police might think we were part of the massacre and shoot us. A small group (or one man) laid waste to a city with dedicated, fearless police officers desperately trying to help, because of access to an insane amount of fire power. Enough is enough.
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 realize that this is completely and totally out of hand. These rounds were just powerful enough that my crew guys just standing in close proximity of a victim shot by this f—ing coward received shrapnel wounds.
And Keeter ended by writing:
We need gun control RIGHT. NOW. My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize 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.
His words are incredibly important in a country that, by an astoundingly large margin, has more mass shootings than any other nation in the developed world. In fact, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a mass shooting, defined as one in which four or more people are shot, happens almost every day in this country. And yet America's gun laws are incredibly lax.
Every time a horrific mass shooting makes the headlines, people pray that it won't happen again, but the gun control laws don't budge.
Of course, part of the reason that nothing tends to change despite cries of "Never again!" is the all-powerful myth that, as NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in the wake of the tragic Sandy Hook shooting, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," according to NPR. In fact, gun stocks tend to go up in the wake of headline-grabbing mass shootings.
But Keeter's account is a powerful first-hand rebuttal to this myth. He's backed up by facts, too. A far-reaching study by academics at Stanford Law School looked at the data, and found that the "good guy with a gun" myth was totally wrong, as VICE reported.
In addition to widespread support, Keeter's post also attracted some critics, some of whom spoke up about the power of empathy, and one shouldn't have to experience something firsthand to know that it is a problem. But as Keeter pointed out in a response, he realized this and acknowledged that now is the time to change.
Keeter's post is also notable in that it is likely to reach an audience that tends to lean more conservative, and more gun-friendly, since many of the people who follow him on Twitter are country music fans. It's so important that Keeter spoke up. And now, for those who have been moved by his words, it's time to take action by calling your representatives, and fighting for more comprehensive gun safety laws.