A few days ago, we as a people were shocked and saddened, as the full capacity of the evilness of mankind was on display in the Las Vegas shooting. Fifty-nine dead, with some five hundred more injured. All Americans could do was ask why such a tragedy took place. Inevitably, that conversation turned into what we can do to prevent them in the future. Before we knew what hit us, people who are for the second amendment and those against went to their respective echo chambers. Nobody exemplified this better than Hillary Clinton.
Our grief isn't enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 2, 2017
In the matter of a comma, we went from “putting politics to the side” to being told to stand up to the NRA. The reactions only got worse from there. Here’s just one example, which has since been deleted:
Somebody saying that is dangerous because of how many people it reaches and how factually inaccurate it is. Honestly, neither of those statements are true. If you have to wait six months for an x-ray, you have a terrible doctor. And if you think you can buy an AR-15 in five minutes, you’ve never tried to buy a firearm. But hey, it’s all about narrative to some people. It’s the narrative from the right and the left that doesn’t allow us to look at the actual facts of gun control.
So, let’s have an open and (for once) honest conversation about it for a change, and look at what can be done to ensure that tragedies like the Las Vegas shooting don’t happen again. Honestly, sadly there’s not much that can be done. And there are many reasons behind it.
First of all, most Americans would quickly get in line behind a ban on assault rifles, and they’d be right to. President Obama used this term constantly while he was in office. However, he was using forceful words that didn’t mean anything. The problem is, assault rifles don’t exist the way we think they do. Assault rifles are automatic weapons used for military use only. Now, many Americans are able to purchase semi-automatic weapons, that look like the military assault rifles but these weapons lack the automatic capability. Because of this, they cannot be labeled assault rifles. It actually became illegal to sell fully automatic weapons under the Hugh’s Act of 1986.
Let’s say you want to ban bump stocks. Bump stocks are an attachment that allow semi-automatic weapons to be fired at a faster rate. The stock “bumps” back and forth against the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger, thereby allowing the weapon to fire faster. Even banning those wouldn’t do much good, because an experienced shooter would be able to easily replicate the effects of what the bump stock is designed to do.
In fact, in any given year there’s an estimated 33,000 Americans who die at the hands of guns every year. Each one is a tragedy to be sure, but none of the laws on the books or being talked about would stop these deaths from happening. Let me explain: two-thirds of these deaths by a gun are suicide. So right off the bat, the number of those killed by violent crimes is drastically reduced. There are zero laws being discussed to stop those people from killing themselves via a loaded weapon. One in five people (usually men and usually age 15-34) die by gun violence. It usually happens because of a gang or crime of some sort. The last 1,700 are usually women, who are victims of domestic violence. Again, virtually no laws are talked about that would help either of these groups. The focus is always on stopping the mass shootings, not the individual cases.
So, let’s look at those attacks that can be considered as mass shootings and see what the data says.
- In October of 2015 Christopher-Harper Miller killed 9 people at a college in Oregon. During the attack he used a Glock pistol, a Smith and Wesson pistol, a Taurus pistol, and a Del-Ton AR-15. All of those weapons are legal for anybody to buy.
- In June of 2015 Dylan Roof shot and killed 9 people at a church in Charleston, S.C. He carried out his attack using a .45 caliber Glock pistol. While this weapon was purchased legally, the FBI noted that he should have failed his background check for possessing Suboxone without a prescription. Sadly, a clerical error allowed him to pass the background check. So a law that’s on the books, failed spectacularly in this case.
- October 2014 saw Jaylen Ray Fryberg use a high capacity Beretta pistol to kill four students at a school in Maryland. The weapon belonged to his father, and his father never should have been allowed to have it, because he had a protection order against him. So again, a law that currently exists failed.
- Another unspeakable tragedy occurred in December of 2012. Adam Lanza killed his mother at home with a Savage Mark II . 22 caliber rifle, then went to an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and killed 26 more people using a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle. Lanza’ mother had purchased the weapons legally, and he then stole them from her. The XM-15 would have been banned under the measure that later failed in the Senate. However, the Mark II would have still been legal, as well as the other handguns found in his car.
Unfortunately, there is no possible way to stop vicious and evil acts of terror like we saw in Las Vegas. Sure, the government can limit the amount of ammunition a magazine can hold, but that would reduce the amount of deaths in mass shootings. It would not, however eliminate them. Nobody knows what to do, but when tragedy strikes like it did this weekend, the government must look like it’s doing something. So there will be calls for stricter gun laws, maybe outlawing of certain attachments or even certain types of weapons. In the end, the know that it won’t stop anybody or do any good. Why won’t they admit that? Politics has become tribalism by nature, and “it won’t do by good” doesn’t look good on a bumper sticker or sound good at a campaign rally. Sadly, until we can get past the politicization of these tragedies, they’ll continue to happen unless we can have an honest conversation about them for once.