Step up the gun control

Amy Miyahara, Asst. A&E Editor

Sandy Hooks. Umpqua. San Bernardino. Orlando. And now, Las Vegas. As we extend our deepest condolences to those affected by this recent tragedy, we are also reminded of our government’s failure to fulfill its duty of keeping its people safe.

It seems that these mass shootings have become so common that the American people have become completely desensitised, almost expecting these horrific tragedies. As we see these instances become increasingly common, we also see America doing very little to prevent such events in the future.

After the 1980 fire at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, and another fire several months later at a Hilton hotel, changes were made to the fire safety codes to prevent future fires. In a perfectly logical sequence of events,  the government saw a public safety issue and addressed it. But why isn’t this logic being applied to the gun control issue as well? If we continue time and time again to see more mass shootings, it makes sense that we change our legislation to do everything in our power to prevent these kinds of events.

And yet the National Rifle Association seems completely unconcerned with public safety. In fact, in 1996, when the Center for Disease Control funded research that revealed that owning guns drastically increases homicide rates, the NRA bribed congressmen to pass legislation preventing the CDC from promoting gun control, and also convinced Congress to take away the CDC’s funding for the research that they were doing. The NRA is clearly too scared of what will happen if people realize that gun ownership has major negative effects.

The “self defense” argument is a major anti-gun control argument of the Republican party, but the idea that these kinds of shootings could be prevented if more good people had guns is irrational. According to a study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, for every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are seven assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and four accidents involving guns in or around a home, demonstrating that the negative effects of firearm ownership significantly outweigh the benefits.

But, maybe if one of those people at that crowded Las Vegas concert had been carrying a gun, they would have been able to pinpoint the exact location of the shooter from 500 yards away, while being bombarded with bullets, aim exactly at that 32nd floor window and stop the shooter. Does that sound plausible?  

Stephen Paddock had 23 firearms in his hotel room, many of them military-style, and all bought legally, according to the Los Angeles Times. Regardless of what anyone says about needing guns for “self-defense,” there is no reason that any regular citizen should be allowed to have access to semiautomatic weapons clearly intended to kill.

Some Republicans will say that we shouldn’t politicize this event, and that we should acknowledge the tragedy and do nothing more. This is ironic, because had the shooter been a Muslim member of ISIS, the party would be calling for the need for travel bans and the need to take down ISIS, all in a very political manner. But because the shooter was a white American citizen, the party will argue that nothing needs to be done and criticize those who “politicize” the event, highlighting the hypocrisy in American politics.  

Gun control should not be a partisan issue; it should just be a matter of common sense. When the U.S. population, despite only making up five percent of the world, includes 31 percent of all mass shooters, according to CNN, it should be a clear indication that something needs to be done. We cannot continue to let innocent people be slaughtered, and we cannot continue to deprive innocent families of happiness and subject them to a life of grief and fear.