The shooting in Las Vegas is an awful tragedy — talking about what made it so is not "politicization," but the realization that politics influences culture and could prevent some atrocities. It's not only natural to engage in yet another gun control debate after a horrific event like the shooting in Las Vegas, where a deranged man killed 58 people and injured hundreds more, it's healthy and a means of developing a preventative solution.
Of course, liberals, and even some conservatives, are using this event as a springboard to debate gun control again. Unlike some of the other tragedies that have happened in the United States over the last year, it's obvious this one is more open-and-shut regarding gun control than any other. Why?
From the sound of the videos and audio recordings released, it appears the gun the shooter used may have been a fully-automatic weapon. A person can't just walk into a gun shop, even one with a Federal Firearms License, and just purchase an automatic weapon. As Sean Davis, The Federalist's resident gun-expert, wrote yesterday:
Federal law highly regulates the manufacture, sale, and ownership of fully automatic weapons in the United States. For those unfamiliar with firearms nomenclature, a fully automatic weapon is one that is capable of firing multiple rounds with only one pull of the trigger; a semi-automatic weapon will fire only one round per trigger pull while preparing the gun to fire another round when the trigger is pulled again. The main federal law governing fully automatic weapons is called the National Firearms Act, or NFA. First enacted in 1934, this federal law regulates fully automatic weapons, suppressors, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and destructive devices such as bombs or grenades. The NFA was subsequently modified in 1968 by the Gun Control Act and in 1986 by the Firearm Owners Protection Act.
This eviscerates the "we just need more gun control" outcry that typically accompanies mass shootings. Gun control, regarding automatic weapons, stands firmly in place. Yet a lone gunman still committed a heinous crime.
At The Atlantic, James Fallows writes that the problem in this scenario is the weapon used and the solution is obviously to regulate its use, particularly when compared with global statistics on mass shootings.
No other society allows the massacres to keep happening. Everyone around the world knows this about the United States. It is the worst aspect of the American national identity.
This simply isn't true. As one user on Twitter announced, (paraphrasing) "The Second Amendment has existed since 1791. The problem here isn't guns but societal decay." Of course, fully automatic or semi-automatic weapons have not been in existence since 1791, but laws to prevent just any person, mentally sound or not, from purchasing them have been in place for decades.
If gun regulations are already in place for the type of gun the shooter used, it seems as if law enforcement, politicians, and other passionate advocates should look into causes beyond the weapon (The shooter also had stockpiled explosives in his hotel room). While so far it doesn't appear the shooter gave any indication of being mentally unstable, he certainly would have to have been to commit such a crime. Poor mental health seems to be a key post-crime indicator and something we as a society should take more seriously.
Even something as basic as beefing up security in crowded, public places might be a conversation worth having. One Drudge Report headline reads the shooter went on a "72 minute" rampage. While I can't imagine it took security that long to reach him, why did it take so long? If the shooter had stockpiled dozens of bags of guns, ammo, and explosives in his room, why didn't a security guard, or anyone else, notice? These things are not nearly as divisive or popular to discuss as gun control, but could have aided in stopping the shooter sooner, or altogether.
While it's normal for a gun control debate to follow a disaster such as this, it might be helpful to have a firm grasp on current gun laws, gun statistics, and take into account that a deranged person who intends to hurt others will attempt to do so with anything from a vehicle to a knife to a fully automatic weapon. A national conversation about security and mental health may be just as helpful as the typical gun control debate that rarely goes anywhere.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
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