Thoughts and prayers just don’t cut it
The deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history took place in Las Vegas on Sunday night when a gunman opened fire on a music festival crowd from a hotel room in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. At least 58 people were killed and 515 injured – a number still increasing as reports continue to come in.
This is nothing but familiar.
It was only fourteen months ago that 49 people and 58 were wounded at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. A shooting that was also cited as the “deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”
It doesn’t stop there.
According to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a not for profit corporation established in 2013 to provide free public access to information regarding gun-related violence in the United States, there have been 46,597 gun violence incidents in the US between Jan. 1 and Oct. 2, 2017.
From these incidents, there have been 11,653 deaths; 23,519 injuries; and 273 of these events have been mass shootings (four plus people shot in one incident).
It’s only October.
At the end of 2016, the GVA reported 58,780 total gun-violence incidents in the United States. Of these incidents, 15,079 people lost their lives; another 30,615 were wounded; and 383 were mass shootings.
By these numbers, there is a mass shooting in the United States every single day.
Furthermore, if we were to include the number of gun-related suicides occurring each year in the U.S. (approx. 22,000 according to the GVA), an average of 35,500+ Americans die each year from gun-related violence.
How many people need to die each year before gun control can be realistically looked at in the United States?
No, I’m not calling for the absolute banning of guns because unfortunately that would never work in the U.S., even though we have seen it happen in Australia after the Port Arthur Massacre of 1996. I’m calling for a regulation of the manufacturing, selling, transferring, possessing, modifying and use of firearms by American civilians.
The U.S. has less than five per cent of the world’s population, however they own 35-50 per cent of civilian owned guns worldwide, as per the Small Arms Survey conducted in 2016. What this means, is that the U.S. has 88.8 guns for every 100 residents. This is not only a heavy indication of the obsessive gun culture of the U.S., but it can also be correlated to the
number of gun-related violence incidents. More guns equal more deaths, right?
Yes, but not quite. A major problem is the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that states:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
While Constitutional rights are crucial to the freedom of its citizens, it is important to remember that this particular Amendment originated in the eighteenth century – a time where the notions of self-defense and food-gathering were essential to exploration and survival. It was also a time when the U.S. was still without a militia to protect their nation.
Therefore, the line “a well regulated militia” poses the question as to whether the right to bear arms in a sense of ‘individual rights’ can be restricted, while governments maintain the collective right to self-defense with firearms.
Another problem is dangerous people using guns effectively.
There are numerous ways that lawmakers could gradually implement policies that can save more and more lives each year. Banning military-style assault rifles and/or limiting ammo capacity are some ways of minimizing major events of gun violence. Another would be to implement universal background checks to prevent putting guns in the hands of high-risk individuals.
Or, shift the focus from guns itself towards programs that deal with violence prevention and mental health assessment. Mental health is a serious factor in gun-related mass shootings and suicides. By recognizing this, educational services and policies could be established to prevent those with mental illnesses to obtain and possess guns. My heart breaks for the victims in Las Vegas and throughout the United States, and I genuinely hope progress can be made because of this.
As we’ve seen numerous times over the past 5 years, sending our thoughts and prayers to those inflicted just doesn’t work. Regardless of what it may be, there needs to be a physical solution.