Las Vegas Shooting: A Time for Action

Jace DeMar, Maroon-News Staff

As most of us know, a mass shooting occurred on October 1 during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip that left 58 people dead and 489 injured. This was the deadliest mass shooting by a single individual in U.S. history. There have been 273 mass shootings (where four or more people are shot to death) in the U.S. this year alone. Consider three particularly terrible mass shootings in the last six years: Newtown in 2012, Orlando in 2016 and Las Vegas in 2017. After each, politicians and pundits talked about praying for the victims and holding moments of silence. This is a completely empty gesture that accomplishes nothing. Enough is enough. Action must be taken if we are to have any hope of stopping this terrible violence and suffering. 

Stricter gun laws are common sense at this point. Bump stocks, such as that used by the Las Vegas shooter, which allow shooters to fire semi-automatic weapons at a fully automatic rate need to be banned. There also needs to be greater limits on the amount of ammunition that people can purchase. Of course, this is not going to completely solve the problem of the mass shootings. Gun advocates will say that people that want to commit crimes such as a mass shooting will find a way to get their hands on automatic firearms regardless if the means of acquiring them are legal or not. By this logic, then, it does not make sense that we make drugs like heroin illegal because people will get their hands whether it is legal or not. It is foolish. We need to make it as difficult as possible to acquire such weapons. If automatic weapons could not be bought legally, it would lessen the opportunities to purchase them. It would also make it so there are less automatic weapons in circulation among dealers and the black market. In short, this measure would make automatic weapons much harder to come by, and therefore would deter many would-be mass shooters from getting ahold of these weapons simply because it would be far too difficult to do so. Take the example of Australia. In 1996, 35 people were killed in the Port Arthur mass shooting. After the shooting, the Australian government came together and passed legislation that greatly restricted gun ownership and sales. As a result, they have had a significant decrease in the amount mass shootings and other gun crimes. Passing gun control legislation is effective, as we can see its effectiveness in Australia. If we consider ourselves to a civilized country like Australia, then we will take similar measures. 

To be clear, this is not a call to outlaw guns all together. That would be unrealistic and illegal. The U.S. is not Australia, and our gun control legislation would have to look significantly different from theirs. Allowing the ownership of bolt-action rifles and single-action shotguns for hunting is fine. Allowing the ownership of pistols for self-protection is fine. While these can still be used as murder weapons, it would be hard to murder 58 people with a bolt-action hunting rifle. Most mass shootings, or at least the ones that have taken hold of our national consciousness, have been carried out using fully automatic weapons. They have not been carried out using the weapons listed above. There is a practical reason to own a shotgun, but there is no practical reason to own an AR-15. No average citizen has use of a weapon that was designed for the sole purpose of killing other human beings.

We cannot continue with this pattern of inaction. Too many have been the victim of killing sprees carried out with fully automatic weapons. Something must be done in order to stop this trend of mass shootings. It only makes sense that the first step toward this would be to make it harder to acquire automatic weapons. With less automatic weapons around, there will be less mass shootings. There is no need for people to own automatic weapons. People do not need to own a weapon that can kill scores of people in seconds. It is as simple as that. 

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