Sensible gun laws required

Billie Firmin, Editor

In the United States, a mass shooting occurs every nine out of ten days.  This week, alone, two shootings have occurred in high schools in Texas and Kentucky and 11 shootings have occured at US schools in the last 23 days.

The most famous shootings are typically ones in which more than five people are killed: the University of Texas Tower shooting, the Virginia Tech massacre, the Pulse nightclub shooting, and, perhaps most prolific, the Las Vegas shooting, where 64-year-old Stephen Paddock murdered 58 and wounded 546 music festival attendees by firing out of a hotel room window. The shooting was the deadliest in United States history.

The issue of gun control in our country has been a controversial and heavily debated topic for years. It is a deciding factor for many voters regarding politics- Republicans tend to be anti-gun control and Democrats tend to be pro-gun control. President Donald Trump advocated in favor of gun rights during throughout his campaign and was endorsed by the National Rifle Association. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, where 20 children were killed, the House of Representatives did not take serious action to prevent future mass shootings, and a bipartisan bill to increase background checks on a majority of private party firearm sales failed in the Senate due to threat of a filibuster by opponents of the bill. Then-President Barack Obama said of the incident, “Right after Sandy Hook in Newtown when 20 six-year-olds are gunned down and Congress literally does nothing…that’s the closest I came to feeling disgusted. I was pretty disgusted.”

The United States has the highest rate of mass shootings in the world, according to a study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine. This is due in part to the lack of strict gun control throughout the nation. For example, mass shooter Stephen Paddock owned 47 guns and obtained all of them legally. In the United States, there is no limit on how many firearms a person can own as long as they pass background checks.

The fact that a person can own nearly 50 firearms without any kind of legal retribution in our country is appalling, especially considering that many were semi-automatic guns. Semi-automatic weapons automatically reload but the shooter must pull the trigger separately to fire another round. These weapons were designed to enable shooters to kill multiple people in a short amount of time. Even more appalling is the legality of bump stocks. According to the New York Times, “A “bump stock” replaces a rifle’s standard stock, which is the part held against the shoulder. It frees the weapon to slide back and forth rapidly, harnessing the energy from the kickback shooters feel when the weapon fires. The stock “bumps” back and forth between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger, causing the rifle to rapidly fire again and again. The shooter holds his or her trigger finger in place while maintaining forward pressure on the barrel and backward pressure on the pistol grip while firing.”

Twelve of Paddock’s guns had been modified using bump stocks. This is how he was able to injure over 500 people in the span of 10 minutes.

Only days after the shooting, politicians began discussing gun control and the possibility of banning bump stocks. Representative Carlos Curbelo, a Republican from Florida, introduced a bill to ban bump stocks alongside Democratic representative Seth Moulton from Massachusetts. “This common-sense legislation will ban devices that blatantly circumvent already existing law without restricting Second Amendment rights.,” said Curbelo in a statement regarding the bill. While the bill had bipartisan support originally, it was never voted on and no other legislation has been considered since.

Robert Gafaar, a survivor of the Las Vegas massacre, has been campaigning for gun control since the event. “The screaming is something I will never forget,” he said to NBC news. With no sign of gun control legislation a month after the massacre, Gafaar is surprised and disappointed. “It’s a joke. It’s an absolute joke… this stuff is just so common sense. What I heard, the continued rapid fire, nobody should own anything like that.

Banning bump stocks would save lives. They are not necessary for self-defense in what situation would a person need a gun modified to behave like an automatic weapon to save themselves? Without access to bump stocks, the Las Vegas killer would not have been able to injure 546 people in ten minutes.

How many lives are going to be taken away before politicians realize that they are enabling mass shootings by refusing to vote on gun legislation? Are our elected officials afraid that they won’t be reelected if they vote to increase gun control? Of course, they are- and because of this they have blood on their hands. They have the blood of 20 elementary school children on their hands. They have the blood of 49 nightclub goers on their hands. They have the blood of 58 music festival attendees on their hands.

Our representatives and senators may be afraid of losing reelection but I and so many others are afraid of going to concerts, to the movies, and even to school because of the possibility that we will be murdered at the hands of someone filled with anger and hate, who was able to act on their anger and their hate because in this country a person can buy firearms online without a background check.

The next time a mass shooting occurs, whether it happens because the killer was a violent felon who was able to avoid a background check or because he could modify his gun to mimic an automatic weapon or because he can legally own multiple guns at once, the men and women who vote against the laws that attempt to prevent those very things from occurring will be responsible. Whoever dies next, whether it be churchgoers or schoolchildren, blame the shooter- but think about why they were able to carry out their attack and who enabled them to do it.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email