As most of you have heard by now, on Sunday, October 1, 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history transpired at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. A gunman by the name of Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers at 10:05 p.m., killing 58 civilians, leaving hundreds injured and thousands grieving.
The 64-year-old shooter positioned himself on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, a carefully calculated placement from which he was able to fire through a shattered section of a window onto the open-air venue with 22,000 attendees. Paddock’s elevated position engendered the fatality of the attack, as the natural response of the concertgoers to lay themselves on the ground only made them easier targets. The gunman fired a prodigious total of about 1,100 bullets into the crowd and at police officers, according to The New York Times.
While some view this as an opportunity to criticize hotel security, as the shooter did not cease fire until 10:15 p.m., when he shot himself, others view that it is important to discern what they believe to be the bigger issue at hand. The need for more restrictive U.S. gun laws is being called into question, as Stephen Paddock was discovered to own 47 firearms, 23 of which were brought into the Mandalay Bay hotel. Even more alarming was the fact that at least one of those weapons was semi-automatic, capable of rapid-fire shooting similar to that of military weapons. In the United States, owning a semi-automatic rifle is completely legal. Furthermore, a large number of firearms were purchased together by Paddock last spring, raising no red flags at the Gun & Guitars store in Mesquite, Nevada, as Stephen allegedly “never gave any indication or reason to believe he was unfit at any time.”
The gunman’s brother never suspected his unusual interest in weaponry either, as he said, “There’s absolutely no way I could conceive that my brother would shoot a bunch of people that he didn’t know.” Paddock’s girlfriend, on the other hand, did believe he could have been in a state of “physical or mental anguish” since he would “lie in bed screaming,” according to a NBC report. Donald Trump stated that “the wires were crossed pretty badly in his brain,” though the president’s knowledge of the perpetrator’s mental state is unclear.
Deemed by New York Police Commissioner “a reflection of insanity,” certain gun laws in Nevada are now being called into question. The lack of restrictions on the allowed number of guns that can be possessed, the freedom to carry weapons in most public buildings and the absence of the requirement of permits to purchase rifles and shotguns are now being criticized especially. While efforts have been made to limit these permissive laws in the U.S., they have not, however, had any success. According to CBS News, every single attempt of the 100-gun control proposals introduced in Congress between 2011 and 2016 has failed.
As news of mass shootings in the United States is becoming more and more normalized in our society, many are left wondering how U.S. guns laws will change under the Trump administration, if they will indeed change at all. Moreover, after the horrific events of the Las Vegas shooting, it seems that the need for change is now more urgent than ever. However, with the emergence of more people advocating for gun reform in the U.S., there is one thing we know for sure: what happened in Vegas will not stay in Vegas.