On October 1st, 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in American history took place in Las Vegas, Nevada.
With extreme certainty, I am writing that we will see this headline at least twice more in the next decade, given that, before this week, the deadliest mass shooting in American history was last year (Orlando). And, before that, was in 2007 (Virginia Tech).
Based on a definition of "mass shootings" that includes an incident in which 4+ people were shot - regardless of the number of deaths - data show that as of today, October 4th, 2017, there have been 340 mass shootings this year in America alone. In October alone - FOUR DAYS INTO THIS MONTH - there have been 538 people injured and 65 killed by gun violence.
It is worth noting that definitions of "mass shootings" can vary and give us different numbers. For example, by not counting the shooter's death as one of the incident's deaths, we can cite that 273 mass murders have occurred in America in 2017, a number that is still concerning given that today is the 275th day of the year. By narrowing the definition to needing an "indiscriminate rampage", one can even rationalize it down to 7 mass murders this year. And about half of the shootings yearly with 4+ victims are family incidents.
There have been 46,958 gun-related incidents this year with 11,747 deaths and 23,839 injuries. 2,451 of these deaths were teenagers, and 551 of them were children under the age of 11. And the roughly 22,000 yearly suicides by gun are not included anywhere in these statistics because they are not "mass shootings" by any rate.
But either way, using any definition, it is clear - America has a problem with gun violence.
Can someone please explain why we cannot have stricter gun control, allowing for the second amendment freedoms but also keeping our population alive? Why there are stores in rural areas that sell military-grade, class 4 weaponry to the general public? And I understand there's some paperwork you need to fill out and a few hoops to jump through that really only give pause to the harmless people. But, if that is such a deterrent, can somebody please explain why it is the fourth day of the month and 538 people are already in the hospital with gunshot wounds?
And it's nice of you to want everyone to have a gun to protect their families. It's noble. Very sacrificial. But it is not a solution to any problem - it is a way of ending the problem more quickly. Why would you not prefer to avoid the solution altogether, limiting people's access to dangerous weaponry and reducing the number of incidents (and, by association, the numbers of injuries and deaths) instead of constantly being prepared to deal with the situation and reduce only the number of deaths? Shouldn't we plug the leaking spout instead of placing a bucket underneath to collect the water?
How many Las Vegas-type shootings do we need to have? How many concerts, shopping malls and leisure parks need to be shot up? How many Sandy Hooks, Columbines and San Bernardinos have to occur? How many nationwide moments of silence, how many lowered flags for kids, citizens and ordinary people who were enjoying music and having fun only to be killed by somebody who found it only too easy to get their hands on something that would allow them to catharsize their internal angst on the world?
I've heard plenty of people citing terror attacks that have used cars to ram into crowds, homemade explosives and plane hijackings, saying that people will find weapons no matter what, and that is true. But why are we making this easy on them? Why do we have huge billboards on the sides of the road advertising that these killing machines are not only buyable but are on CLEARANCE, just a few exits up the road?
And the fact is that, yes, there will always be isolated incidents; events like Las Vegas, tragic and heartbreaking though they are, are not entirely avoidable. Yet we need to limit both the availability of weaponry and who has access to it. Automatic and semi-automatic guns aren't necessary in our daily lives; a handgun will suffice for personal protection and a rifle is all that is really needed to hunt. Anyone with a violent criminal history such as sex offenses, domestic abuse and/or any forms of assault should be kept from purchasing weapons for obvious reasons, and people need to go through a mental health screening ahead of any purchases. An overwhelming number of mass murders (as defined by the "indiscriminate rampage" definition explained above) were committed by people who both 1. purchased their guns legally and 2. had significant previous mental health problems OR a violent criminal history.
Please contact your Congressmen. Ask them to require mental health screenings for people prior to any purchase of a deadly weapon, both for their own protection and for everyone else's. Ask them to ban sales of automatic and semi-automatic weaponry to the general public and to better install security measures to background check potential buyers.
Because, while moments of silence and social media hashtags are important and respectful, it is much, much better to take a stance and make an action to seal the flooding hole instead of just collecting all of the drops - tears - after they've already been wasted.