Las Vegas shooting raises questions about gun control
By: Brett McGarry
After the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history, many have come to demand answers from law makers about gun policy.
Last Sunday bullets rained on a crowd of thousands at a music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay hotel from high powered rifles, killing 59 and injuring hundreds more.
When police entered the hotel room they found the gunman Stephen Paddock had killed himself surrounded by a stockpile of over 20 high-powered weapons, some mounted on bi-pods, some with high capacity magazines and modifications and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Almost all of which Paddock was able to purchase with general ease in Las Vegas.
According to the Law Center to prevent gun violence, the state of Nevada does not require the registration of firearms, or put a limit on how many can be purchased at once or impose a waiting period. Federal law still does require a background check, but that did not slow Paddock who had a clean criminal record and no signs of mental instability. Vegas is also home to several dozens of gun stores and ranges that allow you to shoot virtually any firearm you choose for a fee.
The owner of the store where some of the shooter’s guns were purchased, Guns and Guitars, has released a statement saying all of the state and federal procedures regarding background checks were followed.
— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) October 2, 2017
In the immediate wake of the shooting many members of the public and US politicians called for immediate action regarding gun policies and beefing up gun control.
Democrat Nancy Pelosi wrote an open letter to congress to take immediate action.
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) October 2, 2017
Senator of Maryland Ben Cardin also weighed on the massacre with a public statement and a call to action regarding assault rifles.
We must act. Automatic weapons aren’t needed to hunt deer or ducks; they’re meant to kill people – and they do far too often in this country pic.twitter.com/5OLHEC2tbW
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) October 2, 2017
The White House, in contrast, has taken the stance of stony silence on gun policy.
In a press conference following the shooting, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee said that “now is not the time for a political debate” on gun control.
In his first personal appearance in front of the media Tuesday Trump only loosely said “we will talk about gun policy as time goes on” before boarding a plane to Puerto Rico.
The National Rifle Association has even less to say than the White House. The NRA, who is usually active on social media and has practiced history of PR relations regarding gun violence in America, has not released an official statement about Sunday’s events. Media representatives declined to be interviewed.
There has not been much movement on gun control in the past five years since 20 children and seven adults were killed at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown Connecticut. Obama was in the Oval Office and produced a plethora of policy change. Since then however, the Gun Violence Archive reports that the number of mass shootings have still been on the rise with 990 incidents since the start of 2014.
Recently the legislation being passed and debated in the US Congress is moving in the opposite direction of gun control. Right now, Congress is scrutinizing the Hearing Protection Act which aims to reduce restrictions on acquiring and owning a silencer for a firearm.
While some continue to move to loosen gun laws, a previously staunch second amendment supporter, Country singer Josh Abbot’s lead guitar player Caleb Keeter, has already been vocal about his shifting stance on gun control.
— Caleb Keeter (@Calebkeeter) October 2, 2017
Several personalities in late night television, including Jimmy Kimmel, who’s home town is Las Vegas, Stephen Colbert and James Corden also used their platform to urge change in gun regulations.