The horrific shooting in Las Vegas calls attention to the dismal failure of America’s gun regulations to prevent and reduce the severity of mass shootings. Don’t let politicians dodge this issue until concern fades.
DETAILS are still emerging from Sunday’s horrific shooting in Las Vegas, but one thing is crystal clear at this point:
Americans are being killed and maimed at an unacceptable level because our gun laws are overly permissive.
Of course no one other than Stephen Paddock is to blame for killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500 by firing from a gun-filled hotel room overlooking an outdoor concert Sunday night.
But we should hold Congress and state legislatures accountable for the miserable failure of gun policies they have enacted.
We would hold builders accountable if the roof collapsed on a house they built, killing family members. Our lawmakers should be held to the same standards.
This should start with an immediate moratorium on efforts to further weaken gun laws, such as proposals in Congress to allow civilians to acquire armor-piercing ammunition and silencers.
Then we must find a path forward for well-regulated gun ownership. This should include universal background checks and licensing, and outlawing private ownership of high-capacity bullet magazines, automatic weapons and “tactical” semiautomatics with detachable magazines and pistol grips.
Don’t let politicians dodge this issue until concern fades.
It is never too soon to address this enormous failure of American governance and the devastation that lax gun laws enable across the country.
We may never know Paddock’s motive. But we now have a better understanding of the killing capacity of weapons that are legal or easy to obtain in America.
How we ended up here is no mystery. Legislation is an open book.
For example, the U.S. Senate in 2013 voted down a ban on high-capacity magazines that enable people to fire dozens of bullets without reloading. That law wouldn’t have stopped Paddock but it might have reduced the casualties.
After hearing the rapid rat-a-tat of Paddock’s weapon, who believes the benefit of civilians owning such equipment outweighs the risk?
The bottom line is current gun laws failed to limit the shooting of innocent people in Las Vegas. Hundreds of families are devastated, and the nation’s people are fearful that their loved ones might be next.
Lawmakers who repeatedly reject reasonable limitations and allowed the assault-weapons ban to lapse in 2004 may feel they were defending freedom and making Americans safer.
We know now that’s not the case. Overall, weak laws enabled an average Joe to acquire an arsenal, including tactical weapons, capable of quickly shooting 600 people.
Those laws make America more dangerous, and Americans less free to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those values trump the need to liberally interpret the Second Amendment as allowing broad access to all sorts of weapons.
Paddock reportedly used a legal “bump stock” device that enables the firing of semi-automatic rifles at a rate similar to a fully automatic gun. Congress banned the sale of new automatic machine guns to civilians in 1986, but older ones may still be purchased. Semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15 may also be converted to fire continuously using parts and instructions that are available online.
No law will keep us entirely safe. But it’s indisputable that strictly regulating guns and banning rapid-fire weapons would save lives, reduce carnage and make America safer.
People are still shot in countries such as England, Japan and Australia, where guns are tightly regulated. But they have few to no mass-shootings, involving at least four victims. Meanwhile America averages at least one per day.
Mass shootings cannot become a permanent feature of American life.
Don’t allow elected officials to sidestep this crisis or blame it on intractable mental-health problems.
The frequency and severity of mass shootings are the result of profound policy failures at the state and federal level.
It’s never too soon to make this right, and Las Vegas showed us how wrong we’ve been.