This is now the third time I posted this cartoon from This Modern World:
The events in Las Vegas are horrible. As I write this, 59 people are dead and over 520 are injured after being targeted by a man with automatic rifles. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to be in a crowd targeted by a shooter, and just knowing a rain of bullets is killing and injuring people standing next to you. I hope and pray that the survivors find a way to address the fear, anger, sadness, whatever they happen to be feeling, in such a way that they can continue to lead as close to a normal life as possible.
Some of these people will decide to take action to do what they can to keep incidents like this one to become even more often than they are. If they come up with a plan of action, I hope they let everyone know what it is so many of us can act.
This is now the time to discuss how to keep automatic weapons from being used in another massacre, despite what Sean Hannity says. Police are investigating the shooting, arrangements are being made for the dead, the wounded are being treated. We can move on to addressing the problem. If you don’t think so, think about this:
Jimmy Kimmel, who hails from Las Vegas, talked about the two hotel fires in Las Vegas in 1980. Many died in those blazes. Not long after, Nevada changed their laws, requiring buildings to be more fireproof, more able to keep a huge blaze from happening again. Since then, there have been no deadly fires in Las Vegas casinos.
We can’t talk about automatic weapons? Not long after the shooting, pundits were saying how we need to ask about hotel safety; “how did the man get 20 automatic rifles into his hotel room unnoticed?” It didn’t seem like it was too soon to discuss that.
Second Amendment advocates will say that restrictive gun laws have never reduced gun crime. I think those making those arguments fail to understand Statistics 101: correlation does not necessarily mean causation.
They will trot out the old saw “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” “If we just keep the mentally ill from owning guns, things will stop.” Forget the notion that mental illness covers a wide range of behaviors; truth is, none of the recent shooters showed any outward sign of mental illness.
My position has always been that yes, people kill people, but guns, especially automatic weapons, kill people efficiently. Imagine the same events, except the shooter had a single-shot sniper rifle instead of an automatic weapon. He might have been able to kill a few people before the crowd realized what was happening and scattered. He might have killed a few more until police pinpointed where the shots were coming from. I think it would have been nearly impossible to kill almost 60 people before he was stopped.
No citizen needs an automatic weapon. Hunters would say it’s not sporting to go deer hunting with an automatic rifle. People wouldn’t use it to protect themselves and their homes; they are big, and might cause a lot of collateral damage in their house.
I think a case can be made that a restriction on automatic weapons will pass Second Amendment challenges. The law is not infringing on people’s right to bear arms, just this particular type of armament. I know many who interpret the Second Amendment differently. OK, let’s debate it. Better yet, let’s pass a law and see how the courts feel.
Some will argue, “Restrictions on automatic weapons won’t stop gun violence. If automatic weapons are outlawed, only outlaws will have automatic weapons.” True, it won’t stop gun violence. Some person will find a way to get an automatic weapon and do this again. But, it will deter those who don’t have a criminal bent, or who are shooting as a knee-jerk reaction to some event in their lives. If the next mass shooting has 10 people killed, it will still be a tragedy and a disaster for those involved, but at the very least it would be a step in the right direction.
It saddens me to read over this post and see how often I refer to the next shooting, as if it were a fact of life. Let’s work toward the goal of making mass shootings extremely few and far between.
If anyone knows a way for an individual, who is not a lawmaker, to work toward this goal, please let me know. Then take action.