The Las Vegas shooting on October 1, 2017 stands out in history the deadliest mass shooting by a lone shooter in the United States. Fifty-nine people were killed and almost 500 people were injured when a lone Stephan Paddock opened fire during a country music festival. The mass shooting in Las Vegas is a terrifying tragedy that ideally, the citizens and government should learn from, but time has proven this not to be the case. Las Vegas will go down like Newton or Orlando; people will cry and mourn, but nothing will be done to make sure that mass shootings will be finally prevented. In 2017 alone, there have been 274 cases of mass shootings, and this number will still continue to rise before the year ends. This will change, however, if gun control is properly implemented and managed and if violators are duly punished.
It should be noted that a majority of guns used in 17 mass shootings in the United States were purchased legally with a federal background check, despite some gunmen having criminal histories or confirmed mental disorders. Clearly, there is a flaw in the system if these kinds of people can legally obtain a large number of firearms. Gun laws that implement stricter background checks, limit the number of firearms that can be owned, and ban powerful weapons (like assault rifles) are needed because the previous system did not properly monitor and regulate these.
Many of those against gun control state the owning a gun helps in self-defence. Criminologist Gary Kleck conducted a survey which estimated that about 2.5 million civilians in the United States use their guns for self-defence against offenders. However, several studies have shown that this is a huge overestimate due to non-matching crime statistics and survey results. Even then, if Kleck’s estimates were accurate, only 1% of the whole population used their guns for self-defence. The negative effects of gun ownership, on the other hand, are much clearer. A study conducted in the US showed that cities with higher rates of firearm ownership also had high rates of firearm-related robbery, assault and homicide.
There is also strong evidence that prove that gun control is effective. Countries that have passed gun control laws, such as South Africa and Austria, have experienced a decrease in firearm homicides and suicides. Perhaps the most famous example of strict gun control is in Australia, which enacted the 1996 National Firearms Agreement after one mass shooting. Over 600,000 guns were confiscated and private purchase of firearms was strictly prohibited. Gun buyers had to present a “genuine reason” for purchasing firearms, in which buying for self-defence was not accepted. Firearm homicides decreased by 59% between 1995 and 2006 while there was no increase for non-firearm homicide. Firearm robberies also significantly declined. Finally, there has been no mass shooting in Australia since the enactment. Conversely, repeal of previous gun laws have led to an increase in firearm homicides.
Every year, thousands of people are killed and injured because of intentional or accident use of firearms. Every year, the US government fails to properly address these firearm-related incidents. Every year, people senselessly die because of the obsolete and unregulated system in legally acquiring guns. Each mass shooting incident is a wake-up call not just to the government, but also the civilians, to stop the leniency with guns. If a country truly values the lives of its people, it will enact strict gun control before it’s too late.
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