On Sunday night, as most here in Concord were in their beds asleep, what is now being ruled as the deadliest shooting in modern US history unfolded. 64-year old Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country festival in Las Vegas, Nevada from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. According to authorities, the death toll has reached 58 and 515 have been injured.
We’ve lived through this story several times now – a man, a weapon, and dozens dead. And yet, nothing is being done to ease the problem – in fact, Congress is planning to vote on a bill backed by the NRA to make it easy to buy silencers.
Numerous members of the White House have tweeted to express their grief. President Trump tweeted this morning to send his “condolences and sympathies” to the victims and their families. However, how much meaning does this grief carry if it continues to be matched with legislative inaction?
Look at Australia as an example: after the Port Author Massacre in 1996 that killed 35, different political parties from across the political spectrum came together and restricted the availability of guns. The result was halving both the gun suicide and gun homicide rate in the country.
Evidently, America is in a different state than Australia. With tens of millions of firearms in the US, the existence and issue of guns will never disappear. However, so much can be done to reduce what has been a catastrophic problem.
Part of the reason why Washington has been unable to make progress on this issue and has even voted to loosen gun restrictions is the power of the NRA. The NRA has made $345 million the past year largely due to its promotion to the average American and average gun owner that the government and Democratic party is trying to take away everyone’s guns and eliminate the Second Amendment. And, the NRA uses this money to continue to influence politicians in Washington, it appears, by backing gun-related bills, and giving large amounts of money to certain politicians to alter their voice in Congress.
The notion that Democrats are trying to take away every citizen’s guns couldn’t be farther from the truth – the “evil libs” do not want a mentally stable, normal individual to turn in their gun – only to restrict the accessibility of weapons to the mentally ill or unstable, like the shooter in Vegas appeared to be. That, in my mind, should not be a political debate. It seems like only in the US has such an obvious issue been so controversial.
Until, like in Australia 21 years ago, politics can be put aside and the US Congress can come together and act for the common good and safety of the American population, there is sadly no end in sight for this type of violence. It’s time to go beyond mourning. It’s time to act.