Making gun policy in the mass of passion is a mistake


UTPB Freshman Evan Joel Mitchell is Political Columnist and Features Writer for the Mesa Journal News.

Evan Mitchell , Columnist and Features Writer

This last week America experienced the largest mass shooting in the history of the nation.  On September 30, Stephen Paddock fired at concert goers from the thirty-second floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.  He rained down bullets, and killed a reported 59 people and injured hundreds more.  This act of monstrosity immediately reignited a debate that the country has had for the past 30 years.  People began calling for gun control, or forms of it, after witnessing the horrific events that occurred in Las Vegas.  Although this was an act of pure evil, Congress shouldn’t rush to pass any major legislation.

This shooting, as horrific as it was, is interesting because we don’t actually know much of what happened.  We know the basics, there was a country music concert, Stephen Paddock rented rooms out looking the concert on the thirty-second floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The shooter fired at the concert goers, and after seventy-two minutes, he committed suicide.  We have a few police statements from the Las Vegas Police Department and some videos of the attack to go off of for our information.  Despite a severe lack of information, it didn’t take long for people to start calling for gun control.  This is not good, and I’ll give you a few good reasons why that is.

We don’t know exactly what kind of guns Paddock was using.  Paddock was reported to have had 47 weapons in the hotel room.  In the video of the attack, there was what could only be described as automatic gunfire.  We don’t know how many weapons he cycled through, but we know that twelve of the semi-automatic rifles had “bump stocks”, which allow the rifles to be fired at a faster rate.  The issue with this is that you can’t make well-working policy without legitimate data, and you can’t push a gun policy because of this attack if your legislation wouldn’t have helped the situation.  To make sound and clear policy, you need all the information, and to get all the information, you need time.

We don’t want to overreach the issue.  Many people when this gun control debate broke out were merely asking for a ban on assault rifles.  This was a less controversial and more understandable demand when compared to the blanket gun ban.  There is an issue with this though, fully-automatic assault rifles have been illegal since the 1980’s.  People have fallen victim to believing that fully-automatic rifles were legal, and there’s only an issue with this when you’re attempting to push legislation.  If you want to appease the people and ban fully-automatic assault rifles, you can’t.  At that point, you have to alter what your policy is, and now there’s an unlimited amount of possibilities.  You could ban semi-automatic rifles, and when something happens with a semi-automatic rifle, you can ban all rifles.  It becomes a broad overreach of the government because at that point you don’t need any reason to ban certain guns.

Mass shootings aren’t the crucial gun issues.  Yes, what happened in Vegas was an act of pure evil, but mass shootings don’t necessarily compare to the number of murders or the number of gun deaths in America.  America is focusing on this because it is big news, but it is not something that should be the key element in gun legislation.  A study conducted by Congressional Research claims that mass shootings don’t even equate to one-tenth of one percent of homicides, and are only three tenths of one percent of gun related deaths in the U.S.  We can’t focus gun legislation around these mass shootings unless there is a specific problem that we know we can fix, and we know so little about this shooting that we must wait to find more information.

It uses the victims and the victims’ families as political tools to push a certain agenda.  This is by far one of the most egregious things that someone can do.  You stand up and begin to virtually signal saying that if only there were no guns this wouldn’t have happened, and then using their situations to try and pass policy that the Democrats have been trying to push for over thirty years.  They find these atrocities and use them to push legislation that wouldn’t even help.  Yes, this was a terrible event, but don’t use the people of Las Vegas as political pawns, they have their own voice, let them use it.  Also, the city needs time to grieve, and we as a country should grieve with them.

In the end, we don’t know everything about the shooting.  We don’t know if his weapons were purchased legally, we don’t know his motive, and we don’t know what exactly we can do.  It’s something that we have to wait for more information on.  But, if someone disagrees with you on this issue, the one thing you should never do is accuse that person of a lack of empathy because it disables anyone from discussing the issues.  This shooting was the worst mass shooting has ever seen, but the members of Congress should wait before taking a bill to the floor.