According to the Gun Violence Archive, from January 1st to November 6th of 2017, there have been 307 mass shootings in the United States—that’s nearly one mass shooting every day. The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as a gunman who shoots or kills four or more people at the same general time and location. There have been a total of 13,375 deaths in 2017—633 of them were children 11 and under, and 2,825 were teenagers. The government has never defined what a mass shooting is, nor differentiated them from other shootings. However, the Congressional Research Service defines it as “a shooting in which a gunman kills four or more people, selects victims randomly (which rules out gang and domestic shootings), and attacks in a public place. By this definition, there have “only” been nine mass shootings this year.
Thirty of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States have occurred since 1949, and seventeen of them have occurred in the last ten years. Just last month, on October 1st, the deadliest mass shooting in American history took place, the Las Vegas shooting. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, killed 59 people, including himself, and injured over 400. Paddock opened fire from his Mandalay Bay hotel room, into the Route 91 Harvest music festival. Authorities found over 20 rifles in his room, including an automatic rifle. They found another 24 guns in his home in Mesquite, Nevada. He acquired some of them over the course of twenty years, however, 33 of them were bought between October 2016 and September of 2017. His motives for this devastation is an ongoing investigation. Previously, in 2016, the Orlando shooting had held the record for the deadliest mass shooting with 50 deaths. The Orlando shooter’s motive was to protest the U.S. bombings in Syria and Iraq, in addition to being seen as a hate crime due to the fact that he opened fire in a gay bar.
On Sunday, November 5th, 2017, a gunman opened fire in a church in Sutherland Springs, a town on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas. The gunman, identified as Devin Patrick Kelly, killed 26 people, with ages ranging from 18 months to 72 years old. Kelly was armed with two guns, a rifle, and a handgun. The authorities haven’t determined a clear motive, however, Kelly did send threatening messages to his mother-in-law who attends that church. This is still a developing story, detectives think there may have been more than one shooter. Sutherland Springs is a small town with a previous population of about 600, lost 4% of their population due to this shooting.
There is no doubt that the United States has an issue with mass shootings. The U.S. is home to about 5% of the world’s population, yet 31% of all public mass shootings occur here. Despite all of the lives that have been taken, the protests and petitions put in place, the current administration has not taken action to address this issue. In fact, when Trump was asked about the Vegas shootings, he stated, “Look, we have a tragedy. What happened is, in many ways, a miracle,” implying that many more lives could have been taken. While the overall casualties of these events matter, the fact remains none of these innocent civilians should have been murdered in the first place. Time and time again, the government makes mass shootings seem unavoidable—as if they were natural disasters. The federal government has the power to make guns less available to the public, yet they have not made any federal laws to do so. In addition, gun rights groups, such as the National Rifle Association are known for giving politicians money. During the 2016 campaigns, gun rights groups gave $5.9 million dollars to GOP candidates.
A new gun control law was voted on in Nevada, in the aftermath of the Las Vegas Shooting. Until this law passes, Nevada residents are able to purchase and own guns with little to no background checks or permits. In addition, bump stocks are up for possible legislation. Bump stocks are devices used to change semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic rifles which is what the Las Vegas shooter used.
On April 28, 1996, the worst shooting in Australian history occurred. Martin Bryant, a 28 year-old Australian man opened fire at a cafe in Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia. He killed 35 people and injured 23. In the aftermath of this shooting, Australia created strict gun laws, including banning semi-automatic and automatic rifles, established new licensing requirements, made a 28 day waiting period to purchase a gun, and created a national firearms registry. Considering the number of mass shootings that have taken place, many people argue that the United States should do the same.
How many more lives will be taken and ruined before the government creates new legislation?
“At Least 26 Dead at Baptist Church near San Antonio in Worst Shooting in Texas History .” Dallas News, 5 Nov. 2017, www.dallasnews.com/news/texas/2017/11/05/reported-shooting-baptist-church-town-near-san-antonio.
Cillizza, Chris. “8 Charts That Explain America’s Gun Culture.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Oct. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/10/02/politics/guns-maps-las-vegas/index.html.
“Gun Violence Archive.” Gun Violence Archive, www.gunviolencearchive.org/.
Willingham, AJ, and Saeed Ahmed. “Mass Shootings in America Are a Serious Problem — and These 9 Charts Show Just Why.” CNN, Cable News Network, 5 Oct. 2017, www.cnn.com/2016/06/13/health/mass-shootings-in-america-in-charts-and-graphs-trnd/index.html.
Andone, Dakin. “The Las Vegas Shooter’s Road to 47 Guns.” CNN, Cable News Network, 6 Oct. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/10/06/us/stephen-paddock-47-guns/index.html.