For almost 11 minutes on Oct. 1 and from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock fired into the crowd of the Route 91 Harvest musical festival’s crowd, killing 58 and wounding over 500 others.
Amidst an outpouring of thoughts and prayers, the event has brought a hot-topic issue back to the surface of the political landscape, front and center: gun control.
Most, if not all, of Paddock’s weapons were purchased legally and were modified with a bump stock, which is essentially a replacement for a semi-automatic weapon that essentially converts it into a fully-automatic.
Not only were his purchases legal, Paddock had the means to relatively easily modify them so that he could massacre a crowd simply by holding down the trigger and aiming.
So, then, why isn’t now the time to talk about gun control, as President Donald Trump and other members of the White House have said? When do we talk about gun control if not after the deadliest mass shooting in the United States’ modern history?
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen opened fire inside Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub, killing 49 and wounding 58.
The phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” was being thrown around almost immediately following the incident. Then, no one said it was too early or that it wasn’t the time—why not? What makes the two tragedies so different?
For once, there is nothing to be found in the shooter’s identity to fit a popular narrative. He was white, wealthy, in his later years and had no criminal record nor any connection to some sort of organization.
For once, there is nothing for people to cling onto to convince themselves that they are on the right side of the issue of gun control—there isn’t anything else to focus on, there isn’t some other factor for them to blame.
For once, there is a tragedy that challenges their stance and their opinions that they have nothing to hide behind from. Shockingly, they may have to actually reconsider their stance, which is all but a foreign concept to many people.
With all of these things considered, it becomes clear that whenever someone insists that it isn’t the time to politicize this massacre and focus on gun control, what they really mean is that it should keep getting put off until there’s something else—anything else—for them to blame.
The 2nd Amendment may guarantee the citizens of the US the “right to bear arms,” but the 2nd Amendment was written in a time where there were not weapons that would allow a single person to wound hundreds of others.
It does not include anything about semi-automatic and fully-automatic weapons or bump stocks.
Citizens do not need rifles to defend themselves. There were concert-goers at the Las Vegas strip with access to rifles only minutes away in their cars and it changed absolutely nothing.
It is time right now—not later—to push for stricter gun control in the only economically advanced nation in the entire world where mass shootings regularly happen and it is time to stop making excuses about why nothing has been done.