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Las Vegas shooting response – keep or eliminate guns?

Guns must go

By Patrick Cullinan, Staff Writer

On Oct. 1, a man climbed to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and shot at a crowd of people, killing 58 and injuring almost 500. Right now, nobody knows why he did it. What everybody does know is how he did it. Stephen Paddock used 23 legally acquired guns to commit this crime.

America has seen quite a lot of mass shootings. In fact, according to the New York Times, we see more than one a day, on average. However, this shooting is unique, not just because it was the largest mass shooting in American history, but because of the way it so solidly proves the necessity of getting rid of guns in America. The Las Vegas shooting is one powerful example of why Americans need to forfeit the right to own guns, and reclaim the basic safety that they have taken from us.

Guns do not protect people

According to the Pew Research Center, 48% of people who own guns own them for protection. A common belief is that guns in the right hands provide safety. However, the Las Vegas shooting is the perfect example of why that is not the case. There were actually people in the crowd who owned guns, but couldn’t use them.

I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life,” Caleb Keeter, a member of the country band playing that night, tweeted after the shooting. “Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was. We actually have members of our crew with [Concealed Handgun Licenses], and legal firearms on the bus. They were useless.”

Keeter and every other person in that crowd who had a gun could not use them, because they had no idea where the shots were coming from. One may argue that the Las Vegas shooting is only one example, but when we’re discussing something capable of killing crowds of people, one example is all you need. Guns do not reliably provide protection. The thing that guns do consistently provide is danger. Why should we keep guns around if the protection they provide is inconsistent and not actually proven, and we know that they routinely are used to kill people? What is the advantage?

Guns are the easiest way to kill

Another common argument for why guns should be kept legal is that if guns were illegal, criminals would kill in other ways. Once again, the Las Vegas shooting indicates that this argument is flawed.

58 people were killed in the Las Vegas massacre. If guns were illegal and inaccessible, could Stephen Paddock have murdered so many people? It only takes a little bit of reasoning to figure that mass killings would happen a lot less often if the tools most commonly and effectively used for them were made illegal. The only other way to kill that many people is with a bomb of some kind, and that’s why bombs are illegal. The time has long passed that we should stop treating guns as anything other than devices designed for killing, and used for it more often than is excusable.

More gun control is not enough

Finally, it’s important to note why merely increasing gun control (by ramping up background checks or limiting the amount of guns a person can own) would not be enough to end shootings. In order to actually end gun violence, we need to get rid of all guns. This is obvious because Paddock could not have been hindered by any kind of gun control at all.

Paddock was a completely unextraordinary person. In fact, authorities still are unaware of his motive. They do know that he had been buying guns since 1982, with a recent surge in his purchases. It’s clear that increasing gun control would not have stopped Paddock at all. He wouldn’t have been on any lists of people who shouldn’t be allowed to have guns, and background checks would have revealed nothing suspicious. The argument that background checks would stop criminals but allow innocent gun owners to own their guns is flawed, because the Las Vegas shooting was committed by someone who, up until he started shooting, was an innocent gun owner, like millions of others in America.

There are many arguments still to be had about gun control and gun ownership rights, but the Las Vegas shooting is a terribly perfect example of why so many of the arguments in favor of guns are flawed. The only way to stop these mass shootings from happening is to get rid of the weapon used in them. Surely, the right to walk down a street without being afraid that someone near you may be poised to kill you outweighs an individual’s right to own something that has been used over and over again to wreak havoc on our country.

 

Guns can stay

By Isaac Rose, Guest Writer

I am all for increasing gun control. It makes sense and would not affect the normal person or the legal gun owner. In light of recent events, especially in Las Vegas, we should strongly consider ramping up our gun laws to some extent. However, taking all gun rights away is a bad idea. Banning guns is something that would be both difficult and relatively unhelpful in a country such and the United States.

Gun crimes aren’t as common as they’re perceived to be

Sam Harris is an american journalist and gun owner who brings up some very interesting points about gun control and ownership. One point he brings up is that the amount of violence surrounding guns isn’t actually as much as most people think. In his blog “The Riddle of the Gun,” he says: “Fifty-five million kids went to school on the day that 20 were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Even in the United States, therefore, the chances of a child’s dying in a school shooting are remote. Is gun violence increasing in the United States? No. But it certainly seems to be when one recalls recent atrocities in Newtown and Aurora. In fact, the overall rate of violent crime has fallen by 22 percent in the past decade (and 18 percent in the past five years).”

Violent, gun-based crime is not nearly as much of an issue as most perceive it to be. Similarly, most gun crime is focused in larger cities, while most gun owners are spread out in the country (about 60% of families in the country area are gun owners and about 30% in the cities).

The next obvious issue would be mass shootings with higher fire-rate guns and rifles. I abstain from the use of the term “assault rifle,” as they are not actually the scary-looking, carbon fiber stock AR-15s that most people think they are (AR stands for armalite rifle). Assault rifles are automatic rifles, which are illegal in this country. This is an example of positive gun control. Keeping assault rifles and things like bump stocks legal would be illogical.

Guns do protect people

In a 2004 paper by John R. Lott Jr. and Eli Lehrer titled: “More Gun Control isn’t the Answer,” crime statistics in England show the changes before and after the banning of firearms.  “Crime did not fall in England after handguns were banned in 1997. Quite the contrary, crime rose sharply. In May, the British government reported that gun crime in England and Wales nearly doubled in the last four years. Serious violent crime rates from 1997 to 2002 averaged 29% higher than 1996; robbery was 24% higher; murders 27% higher… The violent crime rate in England is now double that in the United States.” From these facts we can infer that guns actually do protect people, because taking them away leads to higher crime rates.  

The issue with the gun control debate is that when something horrible happens in regard to firearms, people on all sides of the political spectrum go to the extremes, when the answer sits clear and simple, right in the middle. Eliminating all guns is too severe a proposal. We also can’t keep gun laws the way they are. To maximize the welfare of the American people, simple logic should be applied to the problem. We need not eliminate guns, but we should increase safety with stronger gun control.

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