Las Vegas shooting renews gun control debate

A shooting spree killed 58 and injured more than 500 people in Las Vegas, Nevada, renewing questions about gun laws in the US.

The massacre is said to be the largest mass shooting in modern US history.

Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old former accountant, attacked hundreds of concert-goers at a hotel. Paddock shot himself as the police worked to track him down.

Donald Trump, President of the United States, made a statement to the nation the morning after the mass shooting. He called the shooting “an act of pure evil”.

He praised the state’s first responders and police, moving on to say his prayers were with the families of the victims and those injured in the attack.

“In moments of tragedy and horror, [the nation] comes together as one. Our unity cannot be shattered by evil; our bonds cannot be broken by violence.”

Later that day, Trump held a moment of silence on one of the White House lawns with his wife and a handful of his staffers.

During a visit to the hospital, where hundreds of victims received  treatment, the president said he was with victims and their caregivers “100 percent”. He added later: “Words cannot describe the bravery that the whole world witnessed on Sunday night.”

When a reporter covering Trump and the first lady’s visit to the medical centre raised the question of the nation having a gun violence epidemic, Trump said he was not “going to talk about that”.

The three mass gun incidents with the highest number of victims have occurred in the last ten years.

Many commentators have remarked that renewed calls for regulation of firearms echo decades and decades of reaction to mass shootings, a familiar yet ineffective pattern. Thereís no doubt the latest incident has shocked the nation, but whether it will be enough for lawmakers to rethink their stance on gun control is ambiguous. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a formidable opponent for the pro-regulation campaign, with the support of five million members and an enthusiastic lobbying effort on politicians to maintain the status quo.

Politicians themselves also tilt in support of unregulated gun ownership, with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

Despite a number of states passing legislation to restrict gun purchase and use, the Supreme Court has twice ruled the right to own personal weapons in recent years. These rulings came even after a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, which pushed lawmakers in the states of Connecticut, Maryland and New York to implement assault weapon bans.

The US constitution states in its Second Amendment: “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”


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December 2021
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