After Las Vegas, it’s time for Americans to end our bond with guns

Illustration by Erin Vest
Illustration by Erin Vest

I was 10 years old when the Virginia Tech shooting occurred, the first American “deadliest mass shooting” of my lifetime. I was 19 years old when I experienced my second with the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. Sixteen months later, I am almost 21 years old and I’ve just experienced my third, and what I fear will not be my last, in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Festival.

It was the right time to talk about gun control laws then, and it’s the right time to talk about them now. Supporters of gun rights consider it inappropriate, suggesting we should just focus on the victims first.

Fox News host Sean Hannity ranted on his show the day following the Vegas shooting about how “shameful” it is of the left to discuss gun control laws so soon after a mass shooting.

“You can’t resist the urge for one night. Put aside your radical left-wing policies,” he said.

There is not a more appropriate time to talk about regulations that could’ve saved 58 people and counting than right now. The majority of the right doesn’t want to talk about gun control because the NRA funds too many of their politicians, even if not talking about it means more deaths. In 2015, NBC News reported the U.S. firearm and ammo industries made $42.9 billion that year.

Dan Hodges, a British journalist, tweeted after the Orlando shooting in 2016 that the U.S. gun control debate ended after Sandy Hook.

“Once America decided killing children was bearable,” he stated. “It was over.”

He’s right. Time and time again, Americans are killed by domestic terrorists and the government suggests nothing can be done about it. Your “condolences” and your “prayers” do not do anything. How many more times do we have to watch the president make a speech about how “horrific” this event is and not do anything to prevent it from happening again?

CNN says the gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, purchased 33 firearms last year. Police found 47 in his hotel room and his homes, 12 of which in the hotel had been altered to function like automatic weapons.

Machine guns have technically been illegal since the 1980s. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosive, Paddock’s guns were legal. The modifications he made to his AR-15s appear to use a “bump stock” which allows the stock to rebound while the shooter has his finger on the trigger, unleashing several shots. This technology can be bought online and is not technically illegal, however, the NRA released a statement in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting in support of placing tighter restrictions on “bump stock” technology.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill the week following the shooting that would ban the buying and selling of bump stock equipment and other technology that can alter a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic one.

CBS News estimates about 176,000 fully automatic weapons are currently in private hands.

We need gun control laws, they need to be specific and they need to be strictly enforced. Until the Las Vegas shooting, Congress planned to bring a bill to the floor that would make it easier for people to purchase gun silencers. They would be treated as a regular firearm, requiring only a federal background check, instead of a special license like it’s required right now. Speaker Paul Ryan has said the bill is halted for now because they’re focusing on getting the budget passed.

Caleb Keeter, guitarist for The Josh Abbott Band, released a statement after the shooting of which he and the band were present. He took to Twitter to post a message taking his previous support for gun rights back and urging the government to implement stricter gun control laws.

“My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it,” he stated.

It’s encouraging someone can change their perspective on this topic, but it’s discouraging that it often takes a direct personal impact to change someone’s mind.

It doesn’t start and end with stricter background checks or special licenses. The buying and selling of certain weapons and any technology that can create an automatic weapon must be stopped. The NRA and the government officials that profit from it need to reexamine the laws currently in place.

Vox puts the U.S.’ relationship with guns in perspective stating the U.S. makes up 4.4 percent of the world’s population, yet makes up nearly half of civilian-owned guns around the world. On average, there is more than one mass shooting for each day in the U.S. States that have stricter gun laws have less gun related deaths and those with fewer gun laws have more. Police are more likely to be killed in states that allow more access to guns.

I don’t see how someone can look at what took place last Monday and still want to fight for gun rights. This problem is bigger than you and it’s bigger than me.

Put your guns down, the time to surrender is long overdue.

Katie Bashista

Opinions Editor 


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