As a member of the Josh Abbott Band, which performed Sunday afternoon on the main stage of the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Caleb Keeter was a first-hand witness to the largest mass shooting in American history that happened later that night.
At least 58 people died and more than 500 have varying degrees after a shooter identified as Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort across the boulevard from the music festival. The events have once again sparked debate over gun control in the country, and Keeter says it was a wake-up call. In a Twitter post on Monday morning, the band’s guitarist relayed his powerful and emotional story, which has permanently altered his views on gun control.
“I’ve been a proponent of the second amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night,” he wrote. “I cannot express how wrong I was. We actually have members of our crew with [concealed handgun license], and legal firearms on the bus. They were useless. We couldn’t touch them for fear police might think that we were part of the massacre and shoot us. A small group (or 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.”
“Enough is enough,” Keeter powerfully stated. He goes on to describe the fear he experienced and how the horrific situation on the ground permanently altered his stance on the issue: “Writing my parents and the love of my life a goodbye last night and a living will because I felt like I wasn’t going to live through the night was enough for me to realize that this is completely and totally out of hand. These rounds were powerful enough that my crew guys just standing in a close proximity of a victim shot by this f—ing coward received shrapnel wounds. We need gun control RIGHT. NOW.”
Keeter concludes admitting remorse for not coming to this realization sooner and that it took a threat to his own safety to change his mind. “My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it,” he wrote. “We are unbelievably fortunate to not be among the number of victims killed or seriously wounded by this maniac.”
He later followed up with another message of solidarity, saying, “That being said, I’ll not live in fear of anyone. We will regroup, we’ll come back, and we’ll rock your f—ing faces off. Bet on it.”