Mass shootings should be politicized now

Sydney Nash

The tragedy in Las Vegas last Sunday marks the 273rd mass shooting in the United States since the beginning of 2017, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. Today is the 282nd day of the year, meaning that there is a mass shooting in the U.S. almost once a day. The United States has a gun crisis, and so far, there has been little to no legislative action to abate the onslaught of gun violence experienced in America.

In the week leading up to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, there were six other mass shootings. What is a mass shooting exactly? A mass shooting is when a gun is used in a mass killing, which Congress defined as three or more killings.

While that may not sound like too many, in 1,735 days, there have been 1,719 deaths and 6,510 injuries related to mass shootings in the country, according to the same data from the Gun Violence Archive.

The question that many are asking is where are the laws prohibiting this kind of violence from happening? Essentially, there are none.

The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary rocked the nation in 2012 and caused an outcry for legislation that would help decrease gun violence and enforce heavier restrictions on firearms. According to CBS News, by 2016, more than 100 gun control proposals were brought to Congress and not a single one of them passed. Much of this can be attributed to heavy lobbying by pro-gun groups, such as the National Rifle Association. In 2016 alone, groups spent over $10.5 million on pro-gun lobbying, according to opensecrets.org.

Since the shooting in Newtown five years ago, there have been over 1,500 mass shootings around the country. With the current presidential administration and heavy lobbying from pro-gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association, there seems to be little to no hope of passing any significant gun legislation.

Gun violence in America is not something that can be ignored any longer. The tragedy that unfolded in Las Vegas should be a wake-up call for all Americans, pro-gun rights or not. The United States operates within a system where gun laws and regulations have failed the safety and wellbeing of the population, and the nation’s citizens should no longer stand for it.

And yet, the United States has yet to take note or considerable action.

Gun control would not only reduce the number of mass shootings, but it would decrease the number of gun-related deaths overall. According to the CDC, firearm suicides make up more deaths than firearm homicides in the U.S., and the New England Journal of Medicine reports that generally states with more access to guns report more suicides per year. After Australia enacted gun control laws in 1996, gun suicides dropped by 74 percent according to Vox.

Americans seem to be moving in the opposite direction when it comes to gun control. Since the early 1990s, support for gun ownership has increased according to the Pew Research Center. In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, the NRA has remained silent, a move that is familiar for the organization following any mass shooting.

In the week following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, the NRA made no public statements and even took its Facebook down. However, in the following two months, they raised a then record $2.7 million for its political action committee. This was a 350 percent increase from the same period the year before, the Guardian reported.

This idea of “not politicizing” tragedy has been an active discussion since the Las Vegas shooting. Many see it as a way for politicians (specifically democrats) to seek political leverage in the wake of a tragedy. However, it would be a disservice to those who suffer at the hands of gun violence in this country not to act. Now is the time to take legislative action. It is time that one tragedy is enough.

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