Country guitarist changes stance on gun control after witnessing Vegas shooting

Posted at 11:21 PM, Oct 02, 2017

LAS VEGAS -- Country guitarist Caleb Keeter was a proponent of the Second Amendment until Sunday night, when he and fellow members of the Josh Abbott Band were forced to join thousands of people sheltering from the hail of bullets spraying from a Mandalay Bay window. 

In seconds, the Route 91 Harvest Festival at which he had been performing became the site of the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. Fifty-nine people died; Keeter was terrified he would be among them.

"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," he wrote in a lengthy Twitter post Monday morning. "These rounds were powerful enough that my crew guys just standing in close proximity of a victim … received shrapnel wounds."

They had legal firearms on their tour bus, Keeter wrote. Members of their crew had concealed handgun licenses.

None of it did -- or would have done -- any good.

"We couldn't touch them for fear police might think we were part of the massacre and shoot us," he wrote. "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 firepower. Enough is enough." 

Keeter added he regretted championing the cause of firearm ownership for so long, changing his opinion when he found himself at the center of a mass shooting. When another Twitter user compared him to someone who "(didn't) call the fire dept until the blaze is at their one front door," he replied: "You are absolutely correct. I saw this happening for years and did nothing. But I'd like to do what I can now."

Josh Abbott, the band's eponymous lead singer, confirmed Keeter's comments about crew members being struck by shrapnel.

"We are deeply disturbed by this horrific act of violence and send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families," he wrote on Facebook.

In addition to the 59 casualties, 527 people were injured in the shooting. Stephen Paddock, the man suspected of pulling the trigger, killed himself in his Mandalay Bay hotel room; police subsequently recovered 42 guns from the room and his home.