The deafening sound of silence

By Eloïse Carey

What do you think of when you see the word Vegas? The city didn’t necessarily have the most untarnished reputation before October 1st, but the actions of Stephen Paddock that evening ensured that it would take on a more damaged character.  

Stephen had in his hotel room an arsenal of at least 42 guns, as well as several thousand rounds, which he fired directly into a crowd of festival-goers, killing 59 people and leaving more than 500 others injured. Whilst in Europe terror attacks are becoming increasingly creative, with vehicles being the new weapon of choice, in the US no such innovation is needed. You can pop down to the local firearms store and equip yourself to harm on a massive scale in just a matter of minutes.

We can assume therefore, that the refusal to instigate meaningful gun reform by Congress is not for any practical or legal reason. It is an ideological refusal to interfere with the archaic protection of one’s right to be trigger-happy.

Unfortunately, what has been dubbed ‘the deadliest gun attack in American history’ was still not enough to kick the White House into action. Sanders stated that “as a motive is yet to be determined, it would be premature for us to discuss policy.” The reasoning behind this – that 60 murders is not enough of a cause to analyse the ease at which Paddock was able to obtain his deadly arsenal – demonstrates an obtuse refusal to even consider what to most seems blatantly obvious: guns are too readily available in the US.

However, there is little point lambasting Trump or his followers. Instead it is worth considering whether revocation of the Second Amendment is necessary in order to regulate the sale and purchase of guns. The landmark Heller decision back in 2008 actually established that a broad range of gun regulations are ‘presumptively lawful’ and would not be in conflict with the Constitution. We can assume therefore, that the refusal to instigate meaningful gun reform by Congress is not for any practical or legal reason. It is an ideological refusal to interfere with the archaic protection of one’s right to be trigger-happy.

A simple application of proportionality will inevitably lead to the conclusion that preserving life is more important than recreational ‘play-time’. No one is trying to ban guns or their use, yet meaningful compromise remains off the table. The US’s gridlock style of politics means all efforts to establish a bipartisan middle road face insurmountable odds. Both sides appear more interested in upholding their ideological stances than preventing this happening again.

These are the facts. In Nevada it continues to be legal to own a firearm without a licence. There are no limits to the number of firearms an individual possesses, no requirement to register that you own them. The United States Constitution does not prevent legal action to regulate gun ownership. Second Amendment rights could continue to exist, as well as the lifestyle they uphold, but alongside a workable public safety policy.

Last week 60 people died because Stephen Paddock held a grudge and was able to act out. Ideology is the only thing that stands in the way of meaningful gun reform. So why isn’t it happening?

Image by Mubarak Al-Thani via Flickr 

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