The Tiger Tribune News by the Students of Lee Vining High School

Karlina Mosher: Mass Shootings - Is Gun Control the Answer?

By Karlina Mosher
Feb 07, 2018

Image credit: Rudy van der Veen

On Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada, thousands of innocent people were enjoying a country concert, when they began hearing a popping noise. Many thought it was a malfunction with the speakers. Instead, it was a man named Stephen Paddock shooting at the crowd and aiming to kill as many people as possible. As the truth set in, couples began throwing themselves on each other and screaming. Others were running for their lives, not knowing if they were about to be shot in the back. One woman said, “I knew people were dying when I saw a girl, she was covered in blood.” No one knew where the bullets were coming from and no one truly knew what to do. A boy’s first reaction was to call his mother and in an interview she explained, “I’m hearing he’s running and he keeps screaming, ‘I don’t want to die, I love you.” This really hit me because these two victims I just quoted were my cousin and her boyfriend.

Mass shootings have occured more and more often in the United States, yet no one is taking action even though it is clear that current gun control is not enough to “control” these people. In the Las Vegas shooting, not only were my cousin and her boyfriend survivors, but so were two of my uncles and my uncle’s girlfriend. The Vegas shooting was tragic and it impacted so many families’ lives, yet before our nation could even consider changing laws to prevent more shootings, there was another one, the Texas church shooting. It is clear we can reduce mass shootings if we change our gun control laws. Especially in our nation, it is important to find a compromise for gun control because for many, guns are the core of liberty, justice, and independence; therefore we cannot completely get rid of guns. However there are many laws we need to change to make our nation safer. We can maintain the right to bear arms and limit the type and number of guns in our nation. One great way to do this is begin a buyback program leading to our solution.

One clear way we can save lives is to ban bump stocks and other devices that increase the of speed of firing. In the Las Vegas shooting, Stephen Paddock, used several bump stocks to turn his semi-automatic weapons into automatic assault rifles. The bump stock is something that can be completely banned and not interfere with our gun rights, but simply reduce how many bullets are coming out of the gun. According to an article from the New York Times, “Now that the door has been opened for their use. I suspect that future mass shooters may use bump stocks.” Many people argue bump stocks are a tiny factor that won’t matter, yet if we prevent the use of bump stocks we can save lives. Even if one life is saved by eliminating bump stocks, isn’t that more important that someone’s right to have fun at the shooting range? In a poll by Morning Consult, “the measure even garnered 68 percent support from Republicans; (and) Democrats favored it by 79 percent” (Sanger-Katz). Many people realize that banning bump stocks will not take away any gun rights, but will be a strong start to reducing mass shooting casualties. Paddock was able to kill many more people with the bump stock, so we should and can prevent this from happening again.

Paddock not only used bump stocks, but he also used semi-automatic assault weapons. These types of guns are used in the military to kill people and others buy them for “fun”. People may use them for fun, but mass shootings are clearly not fun. According to an article from CNN, Australia had a problem with mass shootings and “the government of the time took decisive action, banning such weapons. Since then, there has not been a single mass shooting…” But in our country, in states like “Nevada, 38% of adults own guns, private gun sales are legal, and there are no state regulations limiting magazine capacity” (Elliott). No wonder Paddock was able to buy 23 guns in the span of 3 short days. There were no red flags sent to the background check system because the information didn’t process for many days, so Paddock bought a total of 47 guns with no suspicion or trouble. This is clearly an issue. We must pass reasonable guns laws in order to save hundreds or even thousands of innocent lives.

A few weeks after Paddock killed over 58 people and injured at least 489; Devin Patrick Kelley walked into a Texas church and started shooting. He killed over 26 people and 20 others were injured. The Texas shooter had many red flags, yet there were malfunctions with the background check system here too. Kelley had a serious background of domestic violence and should not have been allowed to purchase any guns. Kelley ended up in Navy prison, but the Air Force didn’t put the data in correctly for the seller to see Kelley had a previous record and shouldn’t have been able to buy any guns. The shooter was able to purchase 4 guns only two years after getting out of prison without any issue (Pandey). This just proves that our background checks aren’t working. When a gun is bought in a store there is a background check for, “felons, fugitives, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill” (Brady Campaign). In theory this is a good system, but there are many malfunctions with it so a lot of information isn’t posted or up to date. We need to figure out a way to make sure the system is receiving all information, so red flags will pop up, and we can prevent deaths. This is a system that we need to perfect in order to prevent people purchasing guns for the wrong purpose and accessing weapons they should not be able to access. Background checks will not take away our right to bear arms, only make our nation safer.

Semi-automatic weapons are not only entirely dangerous, but also are only used for fun. Kelley used 2 semi-automatic assault weapons and this once again proves these guns are designed for killing people; we need to ban these guns to stop our problem. According to CNN, “Semiautomatic assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment. The federal government and the states can outlaw them…” (Jeffrey Sachs). This means Americans would still have the right to use hunting rifles, but not the dangerous assault weapons that have cost so many lives. I personally don’t want guns completely banned because hunting is one of my hobbies. Instead we need to sacrifice owning some guns in order to protect people’s lives. Banning semi-automatic weapons would not cause any harm to gun owners; instead it would only help to prevent mass shootings and decrease the huge number of guns in our country. It also should not be legal for anyone to go to a gun show and buy all different kinds of guns without a background check, and it should not be legal for people to buy guns from another person, “Experts estimate that 40% of gun sales occur in “no questions asked” transactions that often take place over the Internet or at gun shows where, in most states, background checks are not required” (Brady Campaign). This is very dangerous because the person selling the gun doesn’t always know the background of the buyer. This means new laws need to pass to prevent internet gun sales and require background checks to be used with every single transaction of a gun. It is a major issue if background checks aren’t working or the system isn’t receiving the information and giving red flags.

It was life changing to know how close my family was to being killed in the Las Vegas shooting. I couldn’t imagine how horrific that would be. Yet, no one seems to want to address the issue and make a change. A criminal can easily kill hundreds with an AR-15 with thousands of ammunition rounds, compared to a criminal with a knife who can only kill a few and be stopped a lot easier. This means people that love guns can sacrifice a few guns in order to save thousands of innocent people’s lives. Our gun control laws are not working and we need to change them for the better. What can we do? We need to get rid of bump stocks, ban semi-automatic weapons, tighten background checks, and reduce the amount of guns in our nation. In his recent speech after the Las Vegas shooting President Donald Trump said, “Now is not the time to deal with gun control.” I disagree: How many more righteous people must be killed until we realize now is the time?