At least 59 were killed Sunday night in Las Vegas with more than 500 injured in one of the deadliest shootings in the United States.
To honor the victims, one Bellevue resident with the Eastside chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, organized a candlelight vigil. The peaceful demonstration was held at Bellevue Library’s Mahatma Gandhi statue Monday evening.
“As the social media lead (for the chapter), my job is to post news on gun violence every day, and since I do this twice a day, every day, sometimes, unfortunately, it just becomes another status tick,” said Twisha (who only has one name). “But today it wasn’t. It was way, way more than that. It was soul shattering for me, personally.”
Twisha, who volunteers with the chapter but works at Microsoft Corp. full-time, said holding the vigil at Gandhi’s statue on Oct. 2, which is the birthday of the apostle of nonviolence and peace, was a “bitter irony.”
“I thought I should do a candlelight even if it means I’m the only one standing here with a candle because [Gandhi] said, ‘Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.’ So I’m here today,” she said.
About 10 people attended the vigil.
Twisha’s husband, Prem Prakash, said each person has a responsibility when it comes to how they respond to a tragic event, such as the Las Vegas shooting.
“Change won’t happen unless we all ask for change and it’s for us to ask,” he said. “Something that happened in Vegas yesterday could happen here.”
Prakash said the community should give time and thought into how they are building the world for tomorrow, which it is responsible for.
Twisha said she got involved in Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America after she moved to the country from London about two-and-a-half years ago. The Sandy Hook shooting had just occurred while she was in London and, having grown up in India, her experience with guns in both countries contrasted greatly with the United States. Both London, England and India have “very strict” gun laws, she said.
“So I was very shocked and surprised of how could a developed world country like America let its children just die in a mass shooting,” she said of Sandy Hook.
“When I came here, I was a mother to this beautiful boy and I thought he could have been one of those children that day. It was just sheer luck that he wasn’t there and whenever something like this happens, it is very close to my heart because I’m a mother, I’m a parent. It maters.”
Twisha said the people who died in the Las Vegas shooting were all sons and daughters and all had dreams and hopes.
She believes the shooter did not receive proper mental care and attention, but also that the laws failed because he successfully passed background checks in Nevada.
“I think it is just beyond me,” she said. “Something as basic as background checks, something as basic as guns not going to domestic abusers, criminals, it is very basic. It is not questioning or challenging the Second Amendment at all.”
Twisha said instead there is more of an emphasis on gun safety – locking and storing guns –“because every day, in this country, we have a toddler who finds a loaded gun, which is not locked, it is loaded and just ends up killing himself or herself.”
“What can be more disastrous for a country?” she asked. “Like, America, especially? This is not a Third World country. There, I could have understood this much better but this phenomenon of gun violence in America is baffling to me.”
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has promoted several action items surrounding gun control, including advocating for stronger background checks, the Active Alert bill, and Initiative 1491, which allows families to report suicidal or violent, mentally unstable people to police and the magistrate, who could then restrict their access to guns. The group also participates in their program called Be Smart by Moms Demand Action, which educates students and children about the importance of securing guns safely.
The Reporter attempted to contact the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation for comment, but they could not be reached.