Last Sunday, Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
Armed with over 23 firearms, Paddock fired down into a crowd of 22,000 concert-goers, murdering at least 59 and injuring more than 500 people. The nation awoke on Monday to the terrible news for which there is no apt response. However, in this country, we have become all too accustomed with responding to mass shootings.
This year alone, 346 individuals have been killed in mass shootings. So this was nothing new to our country.
Accordingly, as they had done several times before, many political leaders and representatives sent out tweets or made announcements sending their condolences to the families of the victims.
At this point, “thoughts and prayers” no longer suffice. The fact that this attack replaced the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as the deadliest in America’s history less than 16 months later shows that this is not a problem we as a society can continue to sweep under the rug. In no other situation would we as a society accept moving on without any reforms when there is such an apparent trail of blame.
The mass shooting problem that America is steeped in has never been about religion, race or ethnicity; it has always been about America’s fascination with an archaic stance on gun control.
Paddock was able to legally stockpile over 40 guns, more than 30 of which he purchased over the past year.
The man who sold many of these guns to Paddock says that all of the necessary procedures were followed when Paddock purchased these weapons, testifying that he was in full accordance with local, state and federal laws. The fact that there is no legal protection against an individual purchasing a gun from a wide variety of high-powered options, including some with armor-piercing and automatic abilities like Paddock possessed, shows the inherent problems with this country’s gun policies.
Many who value the protection of gun rights over the protection of human life have argued that it would be incredibly insensitive and disrespectful to launch into a much-needed gun debate in the aftermath of the shooting, saying it would unfairly politicize the terror attack.
Many of these same individuals were seen arguing after the Pulse shooting in June of 2016 that then-candidate Donald Trump’s push for a Muslim Ban should be supported in the aftermath of the attack. This double standard against Islam and non-white individuals in this country is nothing new, but must be changed.
We call upon the elected officials of this country who oppose common sense gun safety laws to remember why they serve in the first place: to provide for the best interests of their constituents and the country as a whole. Instead of doing this, many elected officials have for years stayed loyal to the numerous anti-gun safety law groups adding zeroes to their campaign’s bank accounts, making them complicit in the murder of every victim of gun violence during their silence.
We encourage the students and faculty of this institution to move to action on this issue, dedicating themselves to standing up to the status quo and forcing their representatives to realize that staying silent will no longer get you re-elected. If we stay silent now, we too are complicit in murder.