Can increased gun control prevent further tragedies like the mass shooting in Las Vegas last weekend?
On Sunday some people on my Facebook feed were claiming that the biggest challenge facing America was NFL players deciding to kneel during the National Anthem, but on Monday the mayhem in Las Vegas brought them some much-needed perspective.
After news of the massacre, the worst in modern American history, broke, a crowd of commentators stepped forward to warn us all not to debate or politicize it.
"Show some restraint, they scolded us. Show some class. It's too soon."
Too soon? Do you remember similar calls for restraint after 9/11? Do you recall conservative commentators warning us that now was not the time to address airport security?
The Las Vegas gunman had 19 rifles in his hotel room and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, an official told The New York Times. He had two rifles carefully mounted on tripods to aid his slaughter. He had easily turned his semi-automatics into automatic machine guns, capable of firing off 800 rounds without stopping.
It was military grade hardware, prepped for a war zone, not a famous vacation town.
Lack of gun control in the US allows rich, white men to arm themselves for battle
Don't you think we made it too easy for him? He was rich and white, and he had no criminal record, so he made rifle purchase after rifle purchase without raising any suspicions at all, because who suspects rich white men? If they have the cash, they can buy the assault weapons, no questions asked.
A study last year found that just three percent of American adults own half of the guns in the United States, and that “super-owners” have an average of 17 firearms. Why on earth do they amass such arsenals? Why do we allow them to? What are they anticipating, the zombie apocalypse?
Think of these facts the next time you consider a trip to Vegas. You don't need a permit to buy a gun in Nevada. You are not required to get a license or even register a firearm.
There's literally no limit on the number of guns that you can buy at one time. Carrying an unconcealed firearm in public is actually legal there. You can calmly take one into Starbucks or Lowe’s.
It's legal to own assault weapons and large-capacity magazines there too. There isn't even a mandated waiting period before buying a gun. You can just walk in off the street and purchase what you fancy. You can even bring a gun to a polling place, to a casino or a bar.
How can US states change their laws to stop gun massacres killing further innocent citizens?
The citizens of Nevada voted to approve all of this insanity. I wonder what they make of their very principled votes now?
On Monday the governor of Nevada Brian Sandoval went on CNN to declare that there was “not much we can do.” There is a lot to learn from all this, he said.
“It was a cowardly, despicable act that I'm very angry about. There's not much we can do, but we can learn,” he concluded.
Learn what exactly? That your insane state laws put a third world warlord’s arsenal in the shooter's hands? Isn't it a bit late to be learning that, especially if you have no intention of changing it?
The Las Vegas shooter killed 59 people as of Tuesday morning and wounded 600. The cruelty of his actions was only matched by the ease with which he accomplished it all.
Meanwhile, you, citizen, have a tough question to ask yourself. Are you content to wonder, every time you go to the movies, the theater, a rock concert, the mall, church, school, or any place of public assembly, that you have made yourself a sitting duck for any maniac with an assault rifle?
Until we have stricter gun control, even simple daily life can be filled with fear
Even if you own a handgun and attempt to defend yourself with it, the weapon cannot and will not protect you against high capacity military grade hardware that we sell without sufficient checks. So it won't be a fair fight. It won't be a fight at all.
So are you content to sit through the movie trailers wondering where the closest exits are and if you can make it to one after the first rounds start? Is that how you want to live now? If you have ever been in the path of a shooter with a gun you know how terrifying it is, but what about a shooter with a machine gun?
Recently Donald Trump said that NFL owners are afraid of their players, but the truth is the Republican Party is afraid of the National Rifle Association (NRA). It's extraordinary how worked up some people can get about players taking a knee in peaceful protest against racism – which is, by the way, their Constitutional right – yet those same people can look away when thousands are killed every year by guns.
Wrapping yourself up in the flag or the Constitution to evade all calls for civil dialogue has a long history. But we have seen more of it in the last six months than we have in the last six decades.
Don't be fooled. This is an admission of weakness, not strength. People with strong arguments don't try to intimidate you into silence.
The NRA has Republicans in their back pocket over gun control
The NRA is notoriously proactive in defense of their organization, but on Monday their Twitter account didn't post. Instead, their proxies, like disgraced former Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly, took to the airwaves to insist that massacres like the one in Las Vegas are “the price of freedom.” Murder and mayhem is the national price tag, he claimed.
O’Reilly left this part out: When there's a white gunman, terrorism is just “the price of freedom.” But when it’s Muslims, when its African Americans pulling the trigger, it must be stopped at all costs.
But what use is the freedom to own an assault weapon to a corpse? No one has asked Bill O'Reilly. No one has asked the NRA. After Las Vegas, after Orlando, after Sandy Hook, it's the first question we should be asking them.
So start now. Then call your elected representatives. See if they can explain it.
Do you want to see increased gun control across the US? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.