59 people. One less than 60. More than half of 100.
59 people were killed on the night of October 1st, 2017.
22,000 people came to Las Vegas to enjoy a country music festival, but 59 of them never left.
Stephen Paddock, a middle-aged Nevada resident, used 23 guns to brutally murder these innocent concert-goers. He opened fire from his hotel room at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay, aiming towards the thousands of people enjoying the festival. By the time authorities reached the room, Paddock was dead – it is believed that he committed suicide. While Paddock lay on the floor of his hotel room, 59 families mourned the deaths of their children, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and friends. Moreover, 527 people endured physical wounds and injuries from the attack.
Paddock owned 47 guns.
3 less than 50.
Almost half of 100.
Authorities found 47 guns in Paddock’s possession – 23 in his hotel room, and 24 in his various homes. But how did he acquire this multitude of guns? He simply strolled into a variety of gun stores in Utah, California, Nevada, and Texas, browsed the vast selections of firearms, and purchased pistols, rifles, and shotguns. According to CNN, authorities believe that Paddock acquired 33 of the 47 guns (which were mostly rifles) within the last year. One might assume that this would be flagged as suspicious activity, however, there is no national database that records gun purchases and no federal law that limits the number of guns or amount of ammunition that an individual can purchase in a given time. What’s even more shocking is that in Nevada, one of the states where Paddock purchased weapons, you’re not even required to have a gun permit and there are no laws to regulate the purchase of assault weapons. Paddock’s clean background checks allowed him to easily walk up to the register at these gun stores without arousing suspicion.
So, why aren’t there laws preventing the purchase of this many guns in the first place? The answer is that Paddock’s purchases were, according to authorities, not necessarily out of the ordinary. According to CNN, Sam Rabadi, a former special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stated that “the purchase of that many firearms in and of itself doesn’t necessarily raise red flags.” Essentially, owning this many guns isn’t strange – it’s actually common in some states, especially those where hunting and gun collecting are frequented activities.
We live in a country where owning almost 50 guns is hardly questioned.
We live in a country where you can wake up in the morning, drive to the local gun store or Walmart, and purchase a weapon that has the power to take innocent lives. Browsing Walmart’s extensive firearm collection is no different from selecting a cookie at a bakery, or picking a toy off of the shelf at Toys R Us.
12 of the 23 guns that Paddock had in his hotel room had bump stocks attached to them. These devices allow semi-automatic weapons to function like automatic weapons.
We live in a country where an individual can turn a small pistol into a weapon of war and mass destruction with one simple attachment.
Guns in the United States are simply commonplace. Sure, they’re not always used for mass murder – some Americans exercise their freedom to hunt, and others enjoy collecting firearms. But what we’re forgetting in the midst of all of this is that guns were created for one singular purpose: to kill. Firearms are weapons of war. They’re what soldiers carry when they march through enemy territory, hopelessly trying to protect themselves. When our founding fathers created the second amendment, they intended to give citizens the right to bear arms in order to form a militia. These men simply feared invasion by the British and other foreign nations.
Regardless of my interpretation of the second amendment, individuals on the other side will continue to argue that our founding fathers intended to give citizens the right to possess firearms, no matter the purpose. This is a debate that has been, and will continue to be, a prevalent topic within our nation. The chances of changing this interpretation or altering the second amendment are slim. But what we can do – and what we must do – is implement stricter regulations regarding the buying and selling of firearms.
It is clear that our background checks are not extensive enough. It is evident that guns are far too accessible. Why should our government permit the selling of bump stocks? Why is there no restriction on how many guns one person can purchase within a certain period of time? Why does no national database exist to record gun purchases?
Stricter gun laws are not a violation of individual freedom. Stricter gun laws are the only answer to our gun problem. Stricter gun laws are the only way we can possibly save the lives of the next 59 individuals who find themselves in an unjustifiable situation.
The largest mass shooting in American history took place on October 1, 2017.
Stricter gun laws are our only hope to ensure that this never happens again.
– Georgia Rosenberg, School News Editor