Sadness and anger in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting

For the past 4 months, I’ve hosted my radio show at Kemp Broadcasting, located at 3999 South Las Vegas Boulevard.

The Villages at Las Vegas, the host venue for the Route 91 festival, is located at 3901 South Las Vegas Boulevard.

Mandalay Bay is located at 3950 South Las Vegas Boulevard.

I work next to the places at the center of the worst shooting and mass murder in the history of this country and it still doesn’t seem real.

My studio is just a little bit to left of the “N” in this photo

As a broadcasting professional, I work for SB Nation Radio and I host a variety of national radio shows that require me to be at our affiliates’ studios every day.

For context of how freaked out I am about what happened on Sunday night, I’m going to give my schedule.

During the week, I arrive at 6:30 pm pacific time to host Gamenight with Matt Perrault that airs from 7 pm to 10 pm. On Saturday afternoons, I’m the co-host of the Fade or Follow Podcast. On Sunday evenings, I’m the co-host of The Joe Nemechek Show.

This past Sunday night, I left the Kemp Broadcasting studios like normal and headed to Summerlin, a suburb of Vegas, where I live with my wife and daughter. I drove away from the famous Las Vegas Strip thinking it was the end of just another week. I knew there was a music festival going on because I could hear it as I walked to my car but that was nothing new.

The Villages is where the tv show American Ninja Warrior is taped and it’s where I attended media events for Mayweather vs. McGregor. I had driven past the venue a week prior and noticed all the concessions that were being loaded in. The food trucks and bar carts were being set up around the massive main stage that was built out of big, black beams that reached into the air and stood out in contrast to our gorgeous, blue, Nevada sky.

It was easy to tell that the grounds were being set up for a big event and in fact, over 22,000 people attended that concert on Sunday night.

When I got home, my daughter Madeline was being her typical wild, 3 year-old self and it took my wife and I a while to finally get her to sleep around 9:30 pm. My wife was scheduled to work early the next day, so she went to sleep shortly after we put Maddy down. I’m a night owl and rarely go to bed before 11:30 and I went downstairs to watch HBO. The return of Curb Your Enthusiasm had me excited but before I put it on, I grabbed my phone and opened Twitter.

“Active shooter at Mandalay Bay”

I couldn’t really believe that sentence when I read it. In fact, I didn’t at first.

Living here, we hear of reports of violence on or near the Strip all the time but sometimes they are false alarms. Las Vegas is a city that has many of the same problems you’ll find in New York, Chicago, or L.A but tourists can sometimes overreact and call the police. Yet, this wasn’t a false report as we all now know.

I knew it was something extremely serious after I logged on to the Las Vegas police scanner and heard frantic calls for help and for ambulances with EMTs around the Strip. I listened to the scanner, in tears, for the better part of 4 hours. I just couldn’t believe it was happening in my city and so close to a place I spend so much time. I listened to how the police stormed the shooter’s suite at Mandalay Bay and report that the shooter was dead. I listened as an officer read the shooter’s name and his address in Mesquite as they found his wallet. I listened to hysteria as “active shooter” calls came in up and down the strip.

Even tonight, I’m shocked that a Nevada resident did this to Las Vegas. One of our own killed so many.

Over the past 48 hours, I’ve thought a lot about the timeline of this terrorist attack. The shooting started around 10:08 pm. I started to replay my day and realized that I normally leave my studio at 10:05 pm during the week. If this was Monday instead of Sunday, I would have been in my car as the shooting began. Just 4 hours earlier, I was within shouting distance to the venue.

Even days after the massacre, I’m still having overwhelming feelings of sadness one minute and anger the next.

So many people died in such a short period of time but what has happened in the aftermath has made me forever proud to live in Las Vegas. The city has shown itself to be an incredible community. As we learn more about the night, so many stories are coming out of heroism, amazing acts of love, heartbreaking acts of putting others first and gut-wrenching deaths of people taken from us far too soon. #VegasStrong has become a rallying cry in a similar way #BostonStrong did after the Marathon Bombing and I’m so proud of both my cities. Boston will always be home but I’m so in love with Las Vegas.

For our city, nothing but LOVE.#vegasstrong #LVMPD pic.twitter.com/mMl7NCGctx

58 families will never be the same. 58 people went to a concert and didn’t get to see the sun rise the next day. Here’s a sample of what I said today about it (starts about 3 mins in):

I don’t want to get too political but I will say one thing on gun control in this space because its mine. I refuse to accept this shooting as the “price of freedom”. I’m sorry but fuck you if you think that. Look at this chart from the Vox. We have a problem in this country with guns and we are simply refusing to do anything about it:

29.7 homicides by firearm per 1 million people in the US and that was in 2012!!

You know what has happened since 2012?

We’ve had the two most deadly shootings in our history within 16 month of each other. 

We require you to take a test when you get your driver’s license. If you drive drunk, we take the license away. If you operate a vehicle in dangerous ways, we take away your license.

For a gun?

You can buy 33 guns in a 12 month period and nobody asks what you are planning on doing with them. You can buy hundreds of rounds of ammo and nobody wonders what you will do with it.

This man planned to murder innocent people for a long time and we couldn’t have known he was going to hunt his victims in this way but we have to ask why we sell items that turn semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons for $100. That’s just so fucking stupid. It’s 2017. If you gamble more than $10,000 at a casino, the government knows about it. If we sell you a god-damn people-killing weapon, you should have to register it with the authorities.

As Americans, we’ve become fucking morons about guns. We allow the government to put regulations on our food, our kids’ clothes for fire safety, our cars, our airplanes, but when it comes to guns …. so many say “STAY AWAY!”. Why?

Liberals want gun control and conservatives don’t. The conservatives have won this debate because of the money that gun owners provide to their politicians. Gun owners vote and the NRA knows it. However, you gun guys have had your chance to show us what “freedom” with guns is all about. I’m not going to sit by and watch more people, or even people in my own family, get killed by a machine gun just because you want your “freedom”.

Read this tread by the musician John Mayer. Or watch the video below. These are things that need to be said right now and don’t give me the bullshit about “Hollywood elites.” Our fucking President is a former reality TV star. This is who America listens to in 2017.

Finally, we’ve learned tonight that the gunman tried to blow up an aviation fuel tank behind The Villages (see the pic above again for reference).

If he had succeed in doing that, the explosion would have killed everyone who was running away from Mandalay Bay. In fact, that might have been the target for the second window that was knocked out in his suite. This guy thought he had a gun powerful enough to ignite a jet fuel tanker from 2,000 feet away. That’s a distance of over 6 football fields and yet he thought his gun had the strength needed to create an explosion that would have killed hundreds of people in one night.

Everything we know about mass murderers has been changed by this man. He was old. He was rich. He wasn’t alone in life and he was completely insane. He tried to kill as many people as he could before he killed himself as the police closed in on him. If this story doesn’t change the way we sell guns in America, nothing will.

But then again, nothing changed after 20 children were shot and killed in their own school in 2012.

I refuse to believe this is America. I refuse to believe this is the “new normal”. I refuse to believe that we have to accept these atrocities as a trade off for being an American. The only thing we can do is vote. YOU MUST VOTE. The people who want to keep guns in the hands of madmen vote. If we want our kids to be safe, we must be as active as they are at the ballot box.

It’s our only hope to try to do something different than hearing politicians’ offer “thoughts and prayers” instead of action.