McWilliams: After Las Vegas, America needs stronger gun control

Leta McWilliams

The deadliest mass shooting in US history took place last Sunday in Las Vegas, NV. Shooter Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd attending a country music concert, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500. The Las Vegas shooting has reignited gun control debate in America. Should there be stricter gun control to prevent mass shootings? 

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board. 

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People visit and pay their respects at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the recent mass shooting, on Reno Ave and Las Vegas Blvd. on Oct. 3, 2017 in Las Vegas. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times/TNS)

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Every day, stronger gun control is becoming a necessity. Mass shootings are becoming increasingly more deadly and causing fear among the American people. Especially after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, America needs stronger gun laws because it will decrease unnecessary deaths by homicide and suicide and eventually make America a safer place. 

There are many examples where stronger gun control has had a positive outcome. When Australia reformed its gun laws in 1996, there wasn’t a fatal mass shooting for over a decade. Since then, it has decreased Australia’s mass shootings by 59 percent. Australia’s gun reform policy also cut their gun-inflicted suicides by 80 percent, and there was no increase in non-firearm related suicides.

Australia’s gun problem was way smaller than ours, but that doesn’t mean stronger gun restrictions can’t be achieved.

A definition of mass shooting is “an incident involving multiple victims of firearms-related violence.” By this definition, there is an average of more than one mass shooting in the U.S. every single day, and 93 people die daily in America from gun-related incidents.

It is beyond terrifying knowing that a high school student can go buy a shotgun or rifle from a local Walmart. Guns are made to inflict harm and kill, and there needs to be boundaries set on who can own one.

Many mass shootings are caused by people who are diagnosed as mentally ill, and they were often unaware of their sickness until after they were arrested. For example, James Holmes, the Aurora theater shooter, was diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder. If there had been any sort of mental health check before he bought his guns, twelve people’s lives could have been saved.

Another example is Robert Dear, the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter. He was diagnosed as mentally ill, and if there had been a mental health evaluation, three people’s lives may have been saved, including the life of a local police officer.

The argument that everyone owning a gun will make us safer is a fallacy. Gun-related suicides from underage kids are a regular occurrence in America, including the one in Berthoud last year. The Sandy Hook shooting is another example, where Adam Lanza took a gun from his own home and killed 27 people, including 20 children under the age of eight years old. Last year in Loveland, an 18-year-old man shot his girlfriend twice in the head with his father’s gun because she broke up with him. We cannot justify these crimes. 

Guns are a constitutional right. However, when that constitution was written guns weren’t even comparable to the technology we have now, and that needs to be addressed.

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There are many solutions to incorporate stronger gun restrictions. At the very least, we need to reform our background check system to be stronger. Until we find a solution, America could stop all new gun sales, and grandfather in the guns that people already own. We could restrict ammo sales and offer buy-back plans for people who no longer want their guns. There are options. 

Caleb Keeter, one of the band members that was performing when the mass shooting in Las Vegas happened, used to be a strong advocate for the 2nd amendment, but has since changed his opinion after experiencing the gun violence in Las Vegas. But, we cannot wait for everyone to experience a mass shooting first hand to change their mind on gun control. We cannot wait until another Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, or Orlando nightclub incident happens. This type of experience should not happen to anyone, and we cannot wait until it affects everyone for change to occur. We need to stop these preventable acts of violence before more people die from gun violence with stronger background checks and mental health evaluations.

Leta McWilliams can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @LetaMcWilliams