Mass shootings have been occurring in the United States for over a century. Whether it was at a concert in Winfield, Kansas in 1903, or a festival in Las Vegas in 2017, the message stays the same and the outcome certainly never changes.
While mass shootings are a worldwide issue, they are far more frequent in the United States. However, the true American issue is not the shootings, but how the country responds. How can an entire nation come to one consensus over a topic so broad and so volatile? How can one "united nation in mourning" be so divided in such dangerous times?
In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in American history, it's important to realize that mass shootings are a terribly distorted way to spark the gun control debate. Our naturally sensationalist media tends to focus entirely on terrorism, police violence, and of course, mass shootings. While these three sources tend to dominate over 90% of the news, they only make up less than 3% of gun-related deaths in the United States each year. We tend to ignore a strong majority of the ~33,000 gun-related deaths in the United States simply because they don't make the news. Two-thirds of annual gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides, mainly by men aged 45 and older. Approximately another one third, or 12,000 deaths are caused by homicides. More than half of these homicide victims are young men, two thirds of whom are black. Another ~1,700 women are killed each year due to gun violence, mainly at the hands of domestic disputes. Approximately 400 Americans die annually to mass shootings, and while these shootings have been on the rise, homicides are on the way down. Annual suicides, however, are up tremendously.
Throughout these ~33,000 gun-related deaths each year, one common factor persists -- the gun. However, the roots of each problem are incredibly different, meaning the solutions must be as well.
When Americans are surveyed and polled, ~76% of Republicans and 85% of Democrats are in favor of stricter gun laws. Over 8 in every 10 Americans are in favor of a stricter national firearm code. And while implementing a blanket policy in order to satisfy the masses seems solid in theory, vocal gun owners would dominate the conversation, leading to even more contradictions throughout America's gun policy, and even more volatility between the left and the right when it comes to guns. We must realize that if new policies restricting gun access are implemented in one fell swoop, these policies will most likely miss their targeted objective. A gun law that aims to protect against the mentally ill might backfire and actually hinder the firearm purchasing process for an average, everyday American seeking to purchase a gun in pursuit of a hobby or self-defense.
America has a long history of toxic "quick-fix" policies, especially on the gun violence frontier. However, if the federal government implements another lazy stopgap policy regarding the current state of affairs, the goals and objectives of these policies will not be fulfilled. With all due respect to those involved, 59 deaths on the Las Vegas Strip are but a drop of water in the massive ocean of the "Great American Gun Problem".
If President Trump truly wants to be remembered as a "transformative President", then he must take this administration by the horns and do what his predecessor could not: create lasting and legal policy that ultimately reduces deaths caused by gun violence.
However, President Trump has to cover all the bases. A blanket policy will likely face constitutional issues and only create more political toxicity, while single-issue focused policies will leave too many open holes and unanswered questions. Policies that protect against mass shootings won't be able to stop police brutality and policies that deal with black on black gang violence won't have much of an effect on suicidal white males.
If America really wants to solve the gun violence issue, we must first realize that there are many gun issues. Gun violence is a collection of problems that need to be solved on a case to case basis. It will be utterly impossible for anyone to solve America's gun violence problems with one swift motion. However, the stage is finally set; and the wheel is finally in motion. All it took was 59 more dead Americans. Hopefully our country never has to learn this lesson again.