It’s hard to describe the sound, which is surprisingly faint, and the feel of automatic gunfire coming at you. The bullets are moving so quickly it feels like each round sucks the oxygen out of the nearby air as it passes. By the time I had completed two combat deployments in Iraq, I had grown somewhat accustomed to this harrowing and very unnatural situation.
So when I first heard the audio captured by an eyewitness to the mass shooting attack in Las Vegas last October, I assumed it was footage from a war zone. It took me several minutes to wrap my head around the fact that this was happening on U.S. soil. That hundreds of rounds, fired at high velocity from military-style weapons designed to kill human beings en masse, were raining down on innocent Americans who had gathered to enjoy a country music concert.
The day I graduated from West Point, I took an oath to protect our Constitution and the Second Amendment. My fellow soldiers and I have risked our lives to protect these rights. But with all rights come responsibilities.
Our home should not feel like a war zone. We cannot let this continue.
Over the course of my campaign, and especially over the last few weeks, I’ve talked to far too many parents who describe a similar, sick feeling in the pit of their stomach as they drop their children off at school. I keep thinking of my mom’s first grade class.
When I was overseas, the care packages they sent — filled with homemade cookies, scribbled messages in crayon, and hand-drawn stick figures — got me through some of the toughest times of my deployment.
Now those same kids, and millions like them at schools across the U.S., practice active shooter drills on a regular basis. I can hear the emotion in my mom’s voice when she talks about running those drills with her students. As a teacher, she never imagined she’d have to practice hiding her kids in her classroom closet with the lights turned out.
My mom’s generation grew up doing nuclear fallout drills. Now her students practice how to ‘duck and cover’ from automatic weapons. They are the mass shooting generation.