He didn't see the problem when other people's kids got shot to death in Newtown, Connecticut, or when other people's kids, brothers, sisters, and parents got shot to death in Aurora, Colorado, or when a bunch of brown queers got shot to death in Orlando, Florida. It took someone shooting up a stage he himself had been standing on a few hours earlier for him to see the problem:
Caleb Keeter, guitarist for Texas country outfit the Josh Abbott Band, was a self-proclaimed lifelong supporter of Second Amendment rights—until last night. On Sunday, he survived the deadliest mass shooting by a sole gunman in American history. His band played the main stage at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in the mid-afternoon, just hours before a gunman opened fire from a hotel room 32 floors above the crowd. At least 58 people were killed, and more than 500 others were injured. Thousands more witnessed the carnage up-close as they ran to safety. Keeter was among the thousands. On Monday morning, he tweeted a message: “I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life,” he wrote. “Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was.”
I'm a big proponent of not endlessly lecturing people who've come around on your issues—I think the left should lead with, "Now that you're here," rather than, "Where have you been?"—but Jesus Fucking Christ. The inability of Republicans to imagine what it might be like to be an undocumented immigrant or to be sick and without health care or to be gay or to be trans or to be on the receiving end of gun violence... well, it never ceases to amaze me. So many Republicans and/or cultural conservatives have no moral imagination, no capacity for empathy, no ability to project themselves into someone else's lived experience, no willingness to ask themselves, "How would I feel if that happened to me or to someone I love?"
To be perfectly clear: I'm thrilled Keeter has come around on the issue of gun control and he deserves credit for holding himself accountable:
“We need gun control RIGHT. NOW.” He wrote that his “biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it.”
But still. It shouldn't take getting shot at personally or seeing your fans get mowed down for someone to see how sick and destructive and costly and evil our gun culture is. This and this should've been enough.
And now... a poem: