Nothing New: The Las Vegas shooting and gun legislation

Here we are again, America. Another mass shooting, more American blood on your hands, and another “mentally-insane” white man to blame. When will you wake up? The Las Vegas shooting has been the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history with 58 people dead and another 515 wounded. Yet, at the end of the day there will be no change with American gun regulations despite the devastation.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, ©2017, some rights reserved.

On 1 October, 2017, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fired on 22,000 concert-goers from his 32nd floor hotel suite in Las Vegas, Nevada. When police arrived on the scene, they found 23 guns with a dozen of them modified for automatic fire. Paddock had already killed himself by the time police arrived on the scene. On his bedside table, the police found detailed notes with calculations on how to kill as many people as possible. Despite all the guns and evidence of planning a mass shooting, many blamed hotel security for the devastation Paddock inflicted two weeks ago. But the blame does not lie upon the hotel security system, but upon the access to firearms in America. The National Rifle Association (NRA), America’s most powerful gun-rights lobbying group, stated that ‘nothing could have been done to prevent the Las Vegas shooting,’ dismissing any claims that stricter gun regulation could have saved lives. Instead, the NRA’s spokesperson said that Paddock must have had some ‘sort of red flags’ in his mental history and that violence would have ensued no matter how strict the gun laws. To the NRA, Las Vegas was just another mentally insane white man taking out his frustrations rather than a blatant example that gun laws need to change in America.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, nearly twice as many attacks have been carried out by supremacists, anti-government fanatics, and other non-Muslims in America as by Muslim jihadists. Though 9/11 still amounts to the gravest of them all, the above statistic demonstrates that the majority of American terrorist attacks are homegrown. The shootings of Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, and Charleston were all premeditated attacks on innocent citizens, with the killer being American. The CIA defines terrorism as ‘premeditated, politically motivated, violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.’ Using the CIA’s definition, the recent Las Vegas shooting could be categorized as an act of terrorism in terms of how the shooting was premeditated and violence was perpetrated against noncombatant targets, but it lacks the politically motivated aspect that is still under investigation. Though the police investigating the incident are hesitant to label the attack as an act of terrorism, Nevada’s law redefines terrorism as ‘any act that involves the use or attempted sabotage, coercion, or violence which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population,’ and therefore would categorize the Las Vegas shooting as an act of terrorism. The police seem to be working with the theory that the gunman was ‘mentally unstable’ and even started a microscopic study of the gunman’s brain to see if there are any neurological problems that could be connected to the shooting. Whether or not the killer is deemed mentally unstable, his actions were inexcusable and should be a wakeup call to Americans to finally change their gun regulations.

In America, nearly any adult can own or carry a gun because it is viewed as a basic right and protected by the constitution. However, let’s not forget that the U.S. constitution also stated that African Americans are only worth three-fifths of a person. Times change and the meanings of historical texts need to be adapted to accommodate modern times. The constitution was written in a time when guns were necessary for survival. Now, American security institutions are strong enough to protect citizens without them needing to carry a gun. Yet, America gives citizens who are on the no-fly-list the right to own a gun.

It is clear that things need to change. Australia’s Port Arthur massacre and Dunblane in Scotland were horrific shootings in which both governments pushed for stronger gun regulations. As a result, gun violence decreased tremendously, to where in Scotland only 2% of all homicides involved a gun. Americans should look at both Australia and Scotland as examples on how to stop gun violence, rather than allowing their government to collect money from the NRA while knowing another mass shooting could happen at any time.

The tragedy of Las Vegas will haunt America forever. The reality is that another shooting like Las Vegas will happen time and time again. In April 2017, Trump promised that ‘I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms,’ demonstrating that it is unlikely gun laws will change, despite the shooting. The concept of gun ownership as a basic civil right should be dead. America has proven time and time again that its citizens cannot handle, and therefore do not deserve the right to own guns. Though Paddock’s crime has shocked the world, this is nothing new for America.

Leave a Reply