Las Vegas Shooting & Gun Laws – Controversy

Courtesy of Las Vegas Review Journal

Courtesy of Las Vegas Review Journal

Michelle Liu '19, Staff Writer

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 On October 1st, people from all over the country traveled to Las Vegas to watch their favorite celebrities perform. It was the Route 91 Harvest music festival, a night that they could not wait for; a night to remember. Unfortunately, the deafening screams and gunfire were the only events that will be embedded into their minds for eternity.

At 10:05 pm, the gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock from Mesquite, Nevada, started firing hundreds of bullets. He fired for around 10 minutes straight, so it was not until 10:15 pm that the firing ceased. Many people in the crowd first mistook the gunfire for fireworks, but as soon as they saw people falling to the ground, they bolted to safety. Just in those 10 minutes, Paddock managed to kill at least 58 people, and injured hundreds. Police were searching frantically for the mass murderer, finding him an hour later in the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, dead. He had killed himself with his own rifle before the police found him.

In his hotel suite, there were 23 guns and a few hammers. The windows were shattered, one in the corner and the front, giving Paddock two angles to shoot from (Art Roddick). Police confirmed that Paddock was indeed working alone.

President Trump and the First Lady flew to Las Vegas and spent the day with survivors and doctors at the trauma center. He assured the victims’ families and survivors that they were not alone. “We will never leave your side,” he stated. “In the depths of horror, we will always find hope in the men and women that risk their lives. America is truly a nation in mourning.” He then praised the doctors, and invited them and other survivors to the White House. When a question regarding gun control was brought up by a reporter, he dodged the question. “We’re not going to talk about that today. We won’t talk about that,” Trump said.

However, this is not an issue that should remain in the dark. Guns have been a huge controversy ever since the Civil War. Stated in the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Since then, the number of deaths due to firearms has grown. In America, 93 people are killed with guns daily. Annually, 12,000 homicides due to guns occur. America’s homicide rate is more than 25 times the average of other developed countries. Why are we still allowing guns to be handled by citizens? They have the power to kill numbers of people, and all it takes is one pull of a trigger.

Critics of guns say that gun control will reduce gun deaths. Guns are the leading cause of homicide (66.6% of homicides and 52.2% of all suicides). David Frum, The Daily Beast, and a CNN contributor stated, “American children under age 15 were nine times more likely to die of a gun accident than children in other advanced wealthy countries… About 200 Americans go to emergency rooms every day with gunshot wounds”. Without guns, most of these homicides would not have occurred, and thousands of lives would have been saved.  

However, supporters of guns state that the gun laws will not reduce crime, but gun ownership will. A Nov. 26, 2013 study found that  between 1980 and 2009, “assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level” and “states with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons had higher gun-related murders”. Journalist John Stossel explained, “Criminals don’t obey the law… Without the fear of retaliation from victims who might be packing heat, criminals in possession of these [illegal] weapons now have a much easier job… As the saying goes, ‘If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.’” Banning gun laws will not solve the crimes. Criminals will find a way to hide a gun. Supporters also say that guns are needed for self-defense. According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), guns are used for self-defense purposes 2.5 million times a year. The police are not on 24/7 patrol, so they cannot keep everyone safe all the time. A Pew Foundation report found that 79% of male gun owners and 80% of female gun owners said owning a gun made them feel safer. 64% of people living in a home with someone else that owned a gun said that they felt safer. Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the NRA, stated, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” With a weapon at one’s side supposedly makes them feel safer, so that they can attack back.

Conversely, critics of guns state that these gun laws are needed to protect women from their domestic abusers and stalkers. As a day goes by in the US, five women are murdered with guns. For a woman, the risk of being murdered increases by 500% if a gun is present during a domestic dispute. Between 2001 and 2012, 6410 women were killed with a gun by an intimate partner. Women are in danger because stalkers and abusive partners have easy access to guns, making women feel powerless and victimized.

Both sides do have strong arguments to support themselves, but we do need to find a solution fast. The number of deaths will just keep rising, and we have to put an end to it. Innocent lives are being lost while the gun laws are still in place. This issue requires a thorough thought process, since many lives are on the line.

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