By Carmen Saffioti
Published: October 11th, 2017
Last Sunday, Stephen Paddock, from his 30th floor hotel suite, opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 people, killing 58 and injuring more than 500. The crowd was gathered in Las Vegas for one of the country’s biggest music festivals, the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Paddock, described by his brother, was “just a guy” who had no children, political affiliations, or religious ties. The incident succeeds the Orlando night club massacre as the country’s largest mass shooting.
Authorities believe that Paddock acquired his weapons and ammunition over decades and meticulously planned his attack. Police uncovered nearly 50 firearms, a dozen of them equipped with bump stocks, a device used to change a rifle from semi-automatic to automatic. After the tragedy, Democrats began to push for increased gun control, while Republicans responded with silence, claiming to be out of respect for the victims.
After the Orlando shooting, political commentator Don Hodges tweeted, “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of U.S gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.” This grim stance is one that many millennials have adopted. Mass shootings happen, on average, once every two months since 2011 (according to Mother Jones and Harvard School of Public Health). It is almost like clockwork. There seems to never be too much time in between mass shootings. A majority of the country supports gun control, yet as a nation, there are very few restrictions on gun ownership. Stephen Paddock, Omar Mateen, and Adam Lanza all used multiple semi-automatic weapons in their attacks, yet not one piece of legislation has been passed even limiting the amount of war weapons an individual can purchase. It speaks volumes about the power of the gun lobby in this country. It is so powerful that they can make a nation forget time and time again and never hold their representatives accountable.
The “thoughts and prayers” routine has really grown tiresome to me. What are you praying for if you still support the gun lobby? President Donald Trump followed in the footsteps of many other Republicans; he denounced the act as “pure evil,” planned a visit to Las Vegas, and then promptly avoided talking about common sense gun laws. We are the only country with this problem, and it doesn’t help when those who oppose gun control won’t even bring up the conversation. Many Americans defend the Second Amendment as their constitutional right, but this isn’t consistent when every other amendment has been heavily altered since its inception. In fact, the First Amendment has many more restrictions than the Second Amendment, ironically out of fear of violence.
Those on the other side of the issue argue that if semi-automatic rifles were banned, then it would create an unregulated black market, but I find this hard to believe. Twelve days after the Port Arthur shooting in Australia, the Australian government placed heavy restrictions on all firearms. The government bought back and destroyed over one million firearms and placed long waiting periods on gun purchases. Homicide in Australia has decreased overall after these laws were implemented. Less than one person per 100,000 persons died of a homicide, according to GunPolicy.org. The evidence of strict gun control is clear—less people will die if there are less guns. But it seems that the United States’ politicians will not even discuss gun control on semi-automatic rifles (weapons that were built for the purpose of killing other human beings). It would seem that gun control is the obvious answer. This is the only country where this happens regularly.
I do believe that common-sense gun control will happen eventually, but I hope it is not because of an even more devastating shooting. Tragedy does not seem to move Congress, but grassroots will. The people must come together and push for gun control that will protect themselves and their families.