Last Sunday night, attendees who had been listening to Jason Aldean ran in fear and chaos as a shooter shot for nearly 10-15 minutes into the crowd below from the Mandalay Bay Hotel. This attack is now the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. The shooting that previously held the title happened just 16 months earlier. After Las Vegas, people around the U.S. waited in shock around their televisions, computers and phones for the final count of bodies and the capture of the gunman. They called their loved ones, gathered with friends and wept in solidarity. This is just one more in the long, tragic saga of mass violence thanks to guns in our country’s recent history. The staff of the Foghorn strongly feels this kind of senseless violence must be met with equally sensible gun laws. No American should have as easy access to fatal firearms as the Las Vegas shooter did.
In Nevada, where the Vegas shooting happened, there are no requirements for gun registration, no waiting periods, blue cards (gun ownership records) nor magazine capacity limit. This is the same in 35 other states. The only restrictions in place prohibit the carrying of firearms in places such as schools, universities (unless given permission) and public buildings where signs are explicitly posted. It is still legal to carry firearms in public places, casinos, restaurants and bars. In Nevada, it is even legal for a gun owner to drink alcohol and carry a firearm in a public forum as long as they are not above .10 percent BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration). The federal BAC standard for being too intoxicated to drive a car is .08 percent. If someone is unable to drive at .08 percent BAC, why are we allowing them to be in control of a deadly weapon with no restrictions at .02 percent higher than that?
Besides mass shootings, we have to look at the relevance of guns in civil homicides. The FBI reports that 71.5 percent of murders in 2016 were committed with a firearm. The previously mentioned 36 states with no gun control also have extremely high reported suicide rates by firearms compared to states where gun control is in place. Alaska, for example, has the highest suicide by firearm rate of any U.S. state. Alaska also doesn’t have any gun restrictions, which is most likely the leading reason of this alarming statistic. Louisiana, which also lacks any gun control, has the highest amount of firearm murders than any other state.
If the U.S. implemented restrictions such as background checks, mental health screenings and caps on the number of firearms you can own, deaths and accidents due to firearms would drop in the United States. Lack of restrictions align with reckless usage of firearms and result in the loss of innocent lives. Continuing to allow the unrestricted purchase of deadly firearms by any and everyone sets us on a dangerous path. It’s come to the point where anyone could be killed by a gun; people at concerts, students at school, airport travelers. There is no trend in mass shootings except for the fact that the killer had access to guns. In almost every situation, the death toll would have been drastically lower had they not been able to buy guns so easily.
One can often feel helpless in situations such as these, but there are ways to get involved no matter where you may live or your financial situations. For USF students and faculty, a blood bank called “Blood Centers of The Pacific” is located on 270 Masonic Ave, and is open from 11:30-6:30pm accepting appointments and walk-ins for blood donations. If you live in a district with insubstantial gun laws, you may also call your representative demanding stricter gun control. Your voice and actions matter in these troubling moments. Call your family and friends and stand in solidarity.