Gun control after Las Vegas: Our government’s actions speak far louder than words

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Gun control after Las Vegas: Our government’s actions speak far louder than words

This cartoon is syndicated from the Southwest Shadow, the newspaper of the Southwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This cartoon is syndicated from the Southwest Shadow, the newspaper of the Southwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Isabelle Del Rosario/Southwest Shadow

This cartoon is syndicated from the Southwest Shadow, the newspaper of the Southwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Isabelle Del Rosario/Southwest Shadow

Isabelle Del Rosario/Southwest Shadow

This cartoon is syndicated from the Southwest Shadow, the newspaper of the Southwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada.

by Staff Editorial

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One month ago, on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas, a gunman opened fire out an outdoor concert, wounding 527 and killing 58, using a semi-automatic weapon with a bump fire stock accessory that allowed him to fire at the rate of a fully automatic weapon.

In response to mass shootings, thoughts and prayers are as ineffective as they are ubiquitous. Although well-intentioned and largely meant to be a show of support for victims and families, when they come from our nation’s foremost politicians, platitudes only emphasize our government’s historical lack of concrete action to prevent the inevitable next occurrence.

Most of the media’s—and the world’s—attention since the initial few days of aftermath focused on the psychological state of the gunman, his motivations, his father’s history and the exact timeline of events that night. What has largely gone undiscussed are the bills introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives—by Calif.’s Senator Dianne Feinstein and Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, respectively—to ban the bump-stock gun accessory that enabled Stephen Paddock to increase the firing rate of his semi-automatic weapon.

Passing these bills would be the most meaningful response to such a tragedy, as they would be the biggest step in deterring something similar from happening again.

However, both bills, even the bipartisan House one, have already met opposition from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Republican leadership, both of whom largely concur that administrative changes within Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms would represent the best solution.

Other gun control bills struggling in Congress even after the Las Vegas shooting include a bill for smart gun technology that allows guns manufactured in the future to only be operated by authorized users, and one that would repeal a Bush-era law that immunizes gun distributors and manufactures from punishment if crimes are committed with their weapons.

If these bills flop in Congress, we as a country will have learned nothing from Las Vegas. The very fact that a single Onion article, entitled ‘No way to prevent this, says only nation where this regularly happens’ has been published five times, verbatim except for the location of the shooting, in the past five years, is overwhelmingly representative of how our national consciousness—and our government—express condolences to victims after a mass shooting and proceed to not address the systemic issues that enable such tragedies to happen regularly.

Did you know that since Oct. 1, 26 mass shootings have taken place in the U.S., killing ten and injuring 24? A mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more people are injured or killed by gunfire. Four of the shootings took place in California—one as close as San Francisco.

Responses to such events and our nation collectively showing support for those affected are important, whether through a moment of silence at a school meeting or a President’s official statement. And unfortunately, talks like the one Assistant Head of School Greg Lawson gave about “run, hide, defend” responses to a potential code red on our campus are necessary in a country like ours in a time like this.

But these are by no means the most effective responses. Being collectively informed about what laws—and, specifically, what lack of laws—made Stephen Paddock’s undetected purchase of 23 firearms possible and about what we as citizens can do to contribute to prevention, besides verbalizing our condolences, is more crucial than any emergency preparedness speech.

Taking that information and voting in politicians who pass concrete regulation of the purchase of semi-automatic and automatic weaponry is the only way to truly prepare ourselves.