The Reality of Mass Shootings

Concertgoers running from bullets during the Las Vegas shooting

On October 1st, Stephen Paddock sprayed bullets into a crowd of concert-goers in Las Vegas. 58 lives were lost. On November 5th, just 35 days later, Devin Patrick Kelley unleashed fire on a church in rural Texas, killing 26. The Las Vegas shooting was the deadliest in modern American history, and the Texas shooting was the fifth deadliest. Factor in the Orlando nightclub shooting, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook, and you have the five deadliest mass shootings, all within the past ten years.

In fact, since 1966, nearly a third of all mass shootings in the world have occurred in the United States despite being home to to only five percent of the total  population. This statistic is in accordance with the definition of “mass shooting” provided by the Congressional Research Service. According to this definition, at least four people must be randomly killed in a public place. The Philippines trails the United States as the country with the next highest number. They have experienced eighteen since then.  

Taking these numbers into account, any reasonable person could agree that the United States has a gun problem that needs to be addressed. When asked about the Texas shooting and gun control, Senator Ted Cruz responded, “You know, it is an unfortunate thing that the immediate place the media goes after any tragedy, after any murder, is politicizing it. We don’t need politics right now.”

Cruz being interviewed after the Texas shooting

Is Senator Cruz’s response shocking to you? Wouldn’t you think that a push for tougher gun laws would be a logical response to the recent proliferation of shootings? Well, maybe not, if you’re receiving thousands in campaign donations from people that want to keep guns on shelves. This is the case for many prominent politicians, Cruz in particular. In 2016 alone, he received over $35,000 from pro-gun groups. He was the second highest recipient of gun money, only after Ben Carson. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA and Gun Owners of America gave $5,900,000 to GOP candidates last year, compared to $160,000 given to Democrats.

The truth is that the United States is in dire need of stricter gun laws. You cannot look at the statistics and say otherwise. A country with only approximately 5% of the world’s population shouldn’t have over 30% of its mass shootings. Prayers aren’t what we need, Senator Cruz. This pandemic is preventable. Those on Capitol Hill who are funneling money into their pockets are doing so at a price higher than any campaign contribution- the cost of human lives. Anyone who believes that politicians support pro-gun legislation for any other reason is just overlooking the facts.

Those who justify the right to carry a firearm tend to repeat the same arguments. You’ll often hear someone spout their limited knowledge of the second amendment, or ask in response, “What if someone else has a gun with them too, and can take the guy down?” As NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre has said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” But this isn’t really the case. Very few mass shootings have actually been stopped by armed civilians. In fact, in the five previously mentioned mass shootings, it is believed that all perpetrators besides Omar Saddiqui Mateen, Miami nightclub shooter, died at the hand of their own firearms. Mateen was killed by police.

Innocent civilians will continue to die unless this problem is recognized for what it is: our country makes it too easy to obtain guns. If Stephen Paddock can pass multiple background checks with no red flags, who is to say that the next person who passes a background check is mentally stable? Gun lobbyists continue to push for pro-carry legislation, and politicians allow it since they profit as well. But as long as this system is in place, mass shootings will continue to occur in the United States at an anomalous rate, and the body count will rise accordingly.