During an outdoor country music festival last night in Las Vegas, a gunman started firing an automatic rifle upon thousands of concert-goers. Holed up in a hotel room in the Mandalay Bay hotel, he shot through his window from the 32nd floor.
Thus far, there have been over 50 confirmed deaths with hundreds more injured. At present time, it is the deadliest attack in US history.
This has prompted the timeless debate on gun control – would restricting the use of firearms make shootings like this less common?
It’s important for me to note that I do not own a gun. I’ve never even fired one, and probably never will. But I enjoy knowing that those around me do have them. My boss has one at the office, and my father had one while I was growing up. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve never seen it used, but if a situation ever did arise – if someone ever tried to enact force upon my workplace or family, I know that there is a chance we could stop it.
The thought process behind the second amendment was two-fold. One, of course, for use in self-defense. And two, they are constitutionally accepted in the event that the government becomes tyrannical and a revolution becomes necessary, as seen multiple times throughout history.
But what about automatic rifles?
I’ll be the first to agree that automatic rifles have one purpose: to kill. I’ll be the first to question their necessity in the modern home. But, I’ll also be the first to point out that they exist, and it would be virtually impossible to remove them all. The proposal to ban guns – and even only automatic weapons at that – is a futile one.
We can look to the drug war as an example of the failure of prohibition. Cocaine, heroin, and meth are all illegal in the US. Yet illicit drug use continues to increase, and these drugs are readily available on street corners for anyone willing to buy. What’s more is that the prohibition of drugs is causing more harm. Violence occurs when a deal goes wrong, and the only recourse the victim has is violence. If I buy a TV and it turns out to be defective, I have legal recourse. No one dies. Since that isn’t available in the illegal drug market, violence is the only path many feel they can take. Ending the drug war itself might put an end to many of the gun-related deaths our nation constantly faces.
The other problem regarding a prohibition is that the paper trail – the evidence of when and where a deadly weapon is purchased – vanishes. Guns can’t be traced back to the source if guns can’t be registered and sold legally.
Tough gun laws in US cities such as Chicago have proven ineffective. Chicago has had over 2500 shooting victims just this year alone. European gun laws have also proven ineffective compared to the US. As Thomas Sowell points out, “In the middle of the 20th century, you could buy a shotgun in London with no questions asked. New York, which at that time had had the stringent Sullivan Law restricting gun ownership since 1911, still had several times the gun murder rate of London, as well as several times the London murder rate with other weapons.”
The Las Vegas shooter had 16 different guns found in the hotel. We may never know the motive, but we know he had every intention of doing what he did, and probably would have done it no matter the laws regarding guns. He certainly had no trouble breaking Mandalay Bay’s strict no weapons policy. We don’t know what year the gun used was, but automatic rifles made after 1986 are banned in the US. That didn’t stop him either.
My fear from a ban on guns comes from the same compassionate place many on the left cry for gun bans from. I want less deaths; I want less violence. But I also know that unstable people often do whatever it takes to carry out their mission. I know that the black market exists and will always exist – and that the only way to slow the black market down is to make the products it carries legal.
My words can bring no solace to the man who was dancing beside his wife who was suddenly not there. There’s nothing I can say that will lift the heart the mothers who sent their children off to have a good time at a concert not knowing they’d never hear their voices again.
Every freedom that we have can and will be misused. But we must remember in these trying times the reasons this country exists in the first place.