Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas—the worst in American history—should serve as a wake-up call about the need for more stringent gun control laws in the United States. But the sad reality is, it likely won’t.
With the Las Vegas shooting just the latest in a long and tragic list of mass killings by people with guns in the U.S., the usual and expected immediate reactions are already being heard by the very men and women who have the power to do something to help thwart future attacks. They say their prayers are with the dead and injured. They express condolences. How about they honour the dead the best way they can by acting to control the out-of-control availability of guns in their country?
But, if history is any guide, those calls for an end to the horrific, and prolific, gun violence that has plagued a country that likes to call itself the “home of the free,” will likely fall on deaf ears.
Whether is was Orlando last year, where 49 people were shot to death at a night club, Virginia Tech University, where 32 people were killed in 2007, Sandy Hook, in Newtown, Conneticut, in 2012, where 27 people were killed—most of them children‚ Killeen Texas in 1991 where 24 people died at a cafeteria or San Ysidro, California in 1984, where 22 people died, the lack of will to do something to stop the madness continues.
The above list is just the tip of the iceberg in terms mass shootings—and more importantly in the staggering loss of life—attributed to gun violence in the U.S. in recent history.
Other countries seem to have addressed the issue, so why doesn’t the United States?
Sure, the gun lobby in the U.S. is powerful. But so too is the feeling by many Americans that guns are a right, not a privilege. And gun control laws will somehow infringe on that “home of the free” belief.
But the same defence is not made about requirements to licence and control automobiles and their divers, even in light of recent terrorist attacks where vehicles have been used to mow down innocent nearby pedestrians.
The U.S. long ago passed the point where reasonable gun control legislation was needed. But even in light of recent shootings that have targeted federal lawmakers, many of the men and women in Congress in the U.S. continue to oppose gun control.
The time for praying for those who have been killed in gun violence is over. The dead don’t need the prayers. The living, however, need action.
How many more innocent people need to die before something—anything— is done to make life safer in the U.S.?
At this time, when nowhere in the world seems safe from the threat of terrorist violence, allowing the threat to human life that domestic guns in society create is beyond appalling.
Without the relative ease of access to guns, the 154 people mentioned above—and the 59 in Las Vegas on Sunday night— would be alive today.
Now, as before, the time has come for action.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.