Luby’s Cafeteria, 1991.
Virginia Tech, 2007.
Sandy Hook, 2012.
Aurora, Colorado, 2012.
Pulse Nightclub, 2016.
This past month, Las Vegas.
The list of deadly shootings within the United States continues to stretch back in time; the history of a horrifying phenomena that no one can explain. What’s worse—no one knows how to prescribe a solution that will put an end to the carnage; carnage that has torn families apart and taken the lives of hundreds of innocent people.
A mass shooting can be defined as an incident that targets a multitude of victims with firearm-related violence. In comparison to other nations, the U.S. has an uncommonly high death rate attributed to gun violence. Between 1999 and 2013, 464,033 people in the U.S. died of gunshot wounds.
According to an article in the New York Times by Kevin Quealy, it is as common to be murdered by a gun in Germany as it is to be killed by a falling object in America. Germany is not alone in this either: other European countries feature relatively low numbers of gun-related deaths as well. It cannot be a coincidence that heightened levels of gun violence pertain to countries where gun ownership is less regulated. Where there are more guns, there is more gun violence. Simple as that.
Admittedly, gun ownership is rooted deeply within the American culture, tracing back to the Revolutionary War. The Second Amendment ensures that citizens have the right to bear arms. But what happens when a citizen acquires a firearm and, in turn, uses it to murder their fellow countrymen?
Country musician Caleb Keeter always considered himself to be a strong advocate for the Second Amendment. That is, until he witnessed the massacre in Las Vegas.
"I cannot express how wrong I was," he stated in regards to his former support of firearms during an interview with the New York Times. The idea behind the Second Amendment is that citizens can legally own these weapons in order to feel safe and protected. Although studies have shown that 63 percent of Americans feel safer owning a gun, in the case of a mass shooting, such as the one that took place at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, gun owners were equally as powerless to stop the bullets raining down upon the crowd as those without. What good is a weapon if it only serves to help the owner *feel* safe? Furthermore, Keeter and other crew members, all licensed to carry concealed handguns, did not dare draw their weapons at risk of being mistaken for the shooter by law enforcement.
Proud gun rights activists such as President Donald Trump and members of the National Rifle Association have always stood by the common claim that in the case of a shooting, the more armed civilians on the scene—the better. According to ProCon.org, not one of the 62 mass shootings between 1982 and 2012 were stopped by an armed civilian. In reality, the presence of one armed civilian makes little to no difference in such a situation and certainly doesn’t save lives. If anything, it only confuses those already engulfed in the chaos and confusion.
If not a ban on firearms across the board, perhaps, at the very least, the U.S. ought to follow in the footsteps of countries such as Switzerland and Finland. Prospective gun owners in these nations must undergo a series of rigorous background checks that include a review of mental and criminal records.
It has been predicted by a 2016 Lancet study that implementing federal universal background checks could reduce firearm deaths by a projected 56.9 percent. That’s more than half simply by increasing background checks on those seeking to buy guns. Legislature could also take steps to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines. According to ProCon.org, high-capacity magazines increase the potential in fatalities by 63 percent and the rate of injury by 156 percent. It is undeniable that such assault weapons, along with mufflers, silencers, flash suppressors, and telescoping stocks are of no use for law-abiding Americans.
The availability of firearms to those who intend to cause harm, whether it be through a mass shooting or in a single-victim homicide, is a matter of utmost importance and growing concern. There is no justification for the desire of an assault weapon of high capacity; they serve no purpose but destruction.
Second Amendment activists need to realize that those in want of increased legislature surrounding gun ownership only want to create a safer world. No one should ever attend a music festival only to witness the slaughter of 59 innocent people. Placing heightened restrictions on the purchase and ownership of firearms is the only way to prevent further loss of life pertaining to gun violence.