Email #302: “My biggest regret”?

Caleb Keeter is a member of a band that performed at the Las Vegas country music festival where 59 people were killed and 527 injured last weekend. He said the day after the mass shooting:

“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 licenses, and legal firearms on the bus. They were useless… 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… There rounds were powerful enough that my crew guys just standing in close proximity of a victim shot by this fucking coward received shrapnel wounds.”

That fire power was provided by a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle, a large capacity weapon that was illegal to manufacture for civilian use between September 1994 to September 2004 due to the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. You voted against that bill during your freshman term.

In 2013, President Obama called on Congress to renew the ban, specifying weapons that can “pump out as many bullets as possible, as quickly as possible, to do as much damage, using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage.” That describes the assault rifles  and ammunition used in Las Vegas. If the ban had still been in place, the shooter would not have been able to purchase them, and the fatalities would have been lower.

But you blocked the renewal of the ban because you insisted: “Most modern hunting rifles and handguns of all kinds are semi-automatic, and therefore to attempt to say you’re going to ban them based on how they look … that doesn’t draw any distinction between that and other semi-automatic-type weapons. So I don’t think that’s a meaningful way to address the problem.”

You also opposed universal background checks and a gun-owner registry because, you argued, such measures would inconvenience law-abiding citizens. Now that the law-abiding victims in Las Vegas have been inconvenienced by the worst mass shooting in the history of our nation, what in your opinion would be “a meaningful way to address the problem”?

Caleb Keeter says: “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.”

What is your biggest regret?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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