Once again, our nation is struggling to explain senseless violence. The terrifying scenes from the mass-shooting in Las Vegas are both heartbreaking yet appallingly routine dispatches from an epidemic of violence. An epidemic that we allow to persist.
There have been over 1,500 mass shootings in the U.S. since December 2012 when a gunman entered an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and killed twenty children, six adults and himself. These events mine the very depth of our collective grief yet somehow no new federal gun-control legislation was enacted as a result.
The political stasis around gun-control is largely due to the political power of manufacturers who market increasingly lethal guns for the purpose of self-protection rather than hunting or recreation. On June 12, 2016, a gunman armed with high-capacity assault rifles killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando. The shooting was, until this week, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Between the Orlando nightclub shooting and the attack in Las Vegas on Sunday there were 521 mass-shootings yet zero changes to toughen our federal gun-control laws.
After the killing this week, our leaders and representatives will likely echo the same “shock, sadness and call for unity.” But what will ultimately come of it? Will we continue allowing open and easy access to automatic weapons in this country, where there is already roughly one gun per person? Will our politicians continue to be swayed by companies that use fear to push military-grade assault weapons into the hands of the public? Were those senselessly killed and injured in Las Vegas on Sunday simply paying the “price of freedom”? The answer must be no.