With today’s tragic shooting in Las Vegas, the list of needless mass shootings in America grows. There was the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado in 2012. Virginia Tech in 2007.
The responsibility for each shooting ultimately lies with the individual holding the gun. But other developed nations do not seem to have this much of an issue with mass shootings by lone gunmen. According to CNN:
In the United States, people have a greater chance of dying in mass shootings if they’re at work or at school. Overseas, these incidents typically happen near military installations. In more than half the American cases, the shooter had more than one firearm. In global incidents, the shooter typically had only one gun.
America also has, incidentally, a very strong pro-gun lobbying organization with millions of members and financial strength: the National Rifle Association. According to BBC News:
The NRA is now among the most powerful special interest lobby groups in the US, with a substantial budget to influence members of Congress on gun policy. The NRA spends about $250m per year, far more than all the country’s gun control advocacy groups put together. But the NRA has a much larger membership than any of those groups...In terms of lobbying, the NRA officially spends about $3m per year to influence gun policy...That is only the recorded contributions to lawmakers however, and considerable sums are spent elsewhere via PACs and independent expenditures ― funds which are difficult to track.
America has gun control laws on the federal and state levels. The strength of state laws and their measures of enforcement vary. According to Salon, Nevada has some of America’s loosest gun control laws. A recent article in Newsweek states:
Nevada has some of the most-relaxed gun laws in the country, a legislative condition that is sure to come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history on Sunday night in Las Vegas. Nevada law does not require firearms owners to have licenses, register their weapons, or limits the number of firearms an individual posses. Automatic assault weapons and machine guns are also legal in the state as long as they are registered and are possessed in adherence to federal law, according to the National Rifle Association. Nevada does not prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons, 50 caliber rifles or large capacity ammunition magazines. Local law enforcement issues concealed handgun licenses. Open carry is legal without a permit.
Now is the time to mourn the deaths and injuries of those in Las Vegas. It is not a time for petty partisan politics. But we have to think about how we can prevent such tragedies in the future.