“Who Tells the Story?” is our topic for today’s class. I’d like you to pick one event that has happened since Friday (and it can be ongoing — it didn’t have to originate) including this morning’s events in Las Vegas. I”d like you to consider whose story will be told and whose will not and why? What perspective would you add if you were writing a letter for someone to read 25 years from now about what is happening. Think about what perspective you would want someone to have if they were researching The end of September/the beginning of October. How would you identify your perspective and what would you want people to know?“
Dear Future Researcher,
As you pour over numerous articles, media footage, photographs, police reports, and other archival material related to the Las Vegas Shooting, the look back may seem like a crescendo of noise around gun control. It will appear that America was polarized in a polemic about the right to bear arms. While many arguments circle around the Second Amendment of the Constitution as it stood in 2017, it’s prominence in the controversy overlooks the experiences and accounts of victims and survivors. I am confident that the role of victim voice can offer a deeper breadth to your research as you reconstruct the story.
On October 6th, 2017, the presiding New York Times Opinion section launched an Op-Ed video produced by Mateen Mokalla and Andrea Havis on social media. The 3-minute clip features commentary from a cadre of survivors and victims’ family members affected by major U.S. mass shootings from 1999-(October) 2017. The participants in this video are representative of the Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Tuscon, Charleston, Isla Vista, San Bernadino, and Orlando shootings. This may be the first piece of material that has represented these individuals as a unified body in a public address.
I would also note that this piece of material is important to the analysis of the Las Vegas shooting for several reasons. The use of victims voice runs counter to the media trend, often focused on legalese and character implications of the shooters. In Mokalla and Havis’ account, the survivors are asking for actions over prayers, which has been a hallmark response of politicians as noted from my perspective in 2017. The video addresses that prayers and well wishes have done little to help their family members or future potential victims survive and that more direct action from political leaders is needed.
Since the issues of mass shootings and gun control splinter in many directions, it may be important to know that this particular Op-Ed piece points to Republican leaders as implicated in supporting gun affluence. It is questionable if this responsibility rests on the shoulders of one party or the government alone. This piece is characteristic of our current society’s cultural acclimation to an era where gun violence in public settings is becoming commonplace. Respectively, the survivors in this video represent a resistance to such acclimation. We have yet to address the undergirding issue of our current time, which is the nation’s relationship to violence. In fact, we are drilled on lock down procedures and active shooter protocols in our various public work settings as a precaution for preventing loss of life. This has been implemented more universally than any legal measures to regulate gun access and violence prevention.
To me as it appears in 2017, the story is of a nation’s relationship to violence more so than an issue of gun control. Furthermore, the voices represented hear tell us that our government’s response to society’s symptomatic violence is complacent if not solicitous of its own violent rationale.