Opinion: Gun Control Laws Need to be Stricter
Fifty-eight people are dead, hundreds more injured. The largest mass shooting in United States history. Events in Las Vegas have once more brought the debate on gun control to the forefront of the American political conversation. It shouldn’t be this hard to see that something needs to be done, and it should have been done a long time ago.
Columbine. Sandy Hook. Orlando. On and on it goes. Senseless, violent and, most painfully, entirely preventable. One after the other we have felt outrage and grief and tweeted our sorrows only to move on once something new grabbed our attention. We’ve failed to make any change that could save lives, changes that could have stopped Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas massacre has conservatives in a quandary. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, wasn’t a radical Islamic militant who immigrated to the United States illegally to kill Americans. He was 64 years old, white, a highly successful born-and-raised American with no political or religious affiliations. He doesn’t fit the Republican Party’s black and white concept of good and evil, so the only matter illuminated by yet another mass shooting is that this country’s gun laws are a joke.
Background checks have proven ineffective. Psychological examinations are nonexistent. The Clinton-era Assault Rifle Ban has been expired since 2004. People on the terrorist watchlist can legally purchase firearms and there is no federal statute regarding licensing for owners. These are serious problems that we have long been aware of and yet have done nothing to remedy. The reason? Greed. The incessant intrusion of corporate money that has seeped so heavily into Capitol Hill and forced the inaction of our elected representatives.
The National Rifle Association spends millions of dollars a year to influence legislation that pushes for gun-friendly policy. They are a highly effective and motivated group that is only ramping up their efforts. By June of this year, the NRA had already outspent their expenditure for all of 2016. The great majority of this funding goes to Republicans, and in return, Republicans are major opponents of gun control.
This is why I write this with a heavy heart, knowing that our GOP-controlled Congress will never allow a proper, necessary and lifesaving policy to see the light of day.
The Second Amendment is antiquated and needs to, somehow, be remedied to reflect the times we live in. When the Bill of Rights was written in 1789, the standard firearm of the day was the musket which was only capable of firing about two to three rounds per minute. Today, a standard semi-automatic rifle can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute. That is weaponry that even the most brilliant of our Founding Fathers could not possibly imagine.
I am not and will not advocate for a complete ban on firearms. However, I believe that may do more harm than good. But we need some level of management, some way to ensure that unstable or ill-intentioned people cannot simply walk into a Dicks Sporting Goods and walk out with a device that can snuff out a human life.
How many more? How many have to die before we care, before we’re finally willing to do something about a problem that has plagued us for far too long? Since Sandy Hook, on average, there has been one mass shooting for every single day, amounting to a total loss of 1,700 lives. The overwhelming majority of these are not acts committed by foreign intruders looking to topple the American system. By and large, these murders have been perpetrated by Americans — sick or disgruntled citizens who have too easy an access to weapons of war.
It is becoming harder and harder to be shocked at the atrocities that man can commit. But it’s the government and people’s job to ensure the welfare of man. We have, thus far, failed to do so, and we simply cannot afford to ignore it any longer.