Spotlight: Las Vegas shooting ignites furious debate over gun control in US

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/10/4 17:17:30

The worst mass shooting in modern US history has entailed vehement discussion about gun rights from the public to the center of Washington politics.

Americans woke up to this nightmarish news: a 64-year-old gunman opened fire on a concert in Las Vegas, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500 others on Sunday night.

According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, a total of 42 guns were found in the hotel room and house of the suspected shooter Stephen Paddock.

This tragedy - like the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting - has again led to a debate on gun control measures in the country.

The second Amendment to the US Constitution protects Americans' rights to bear arms. It states, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

According to national statistics, more than 22 percent of Americans own one or more guns. Most gun owners believe owning a gun is a fundamental freedom.

On the rise over the last few years is support for stricter gun control measures. Proponents of such measures are not against the right to bear arms; they just want stronger controls in place.

"What I think we need to do is actually begin to study gun violence as a phenomenon," Zachary Siegel, a freelance reporter for the Newsweek told Xinhua.

The second Amendment was ratified in 1791. The law needs an update because technology has drastically changed the 1791 definition of "arms." Back then, guns held one bullet. On Sunday a man from a hotel room mowed down nearly 60 people in 10 minutes.

"We need to understand gun violence better, and then talk about how to fix America's gun problem," said Siegel.

The American College of Physicians said gun violence is a public health epidemic. But there is a lack of gun violence studies. Funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence was drained in 1996 by what is known as the Dickey Amendment. And the National Institute of Health is quietly taking steps to shut down their gun violence research program.

Los Angeles Times published an editorial on Monday calling for political action to limit military-style weapons. It criticized the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has "spent decades fighting to put more guns into the hands of Americans with as few restrictions as possible." LA Times claims that the NRA's undue sway over Congress, along with delusions on the part of some lawmakers about what the second Amendment really means, have landed Americans in these straits.

Even though public support for more regulation typically spikes after mass shootings, it will still be difficult to shake up well-worn gun politics to produce meaningful changes in the nation's gun laws, according to a CNN report.

Gun politics have a long history of being partisan diverging. Democrats demanded more gun control. After Las Vegas tragedy, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts warned via Twitter: "Thoughts & prayers are NOT enough." Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts refused to join the President's moment silence for the Las Vegas victims and tweeted, "It's time for action."

Many Republicans, on the other hand, believe their stance on the gun issue is fundamental to the character of America. They offered prayers, but opposed new firearms laws. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin tweeted, "To all those political opportunists who are seizing on the tragedy in Las Vegas to call for more gun regs... You can't regulate evil..."

The US President Donald Trump sent his condolences saying, "We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace, and we pray for the day when evil is banished, and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear." But the Washington Post pointed out that "Trump, whose campaign received 30 million US dollars from the NRA, knows where his bread is buttered."

In the first weeks in power, Trump moved to reverse Obama-era regulations that attempted to make it harder for people with records of mental illness to acquire guns. In April, he addressed the NRA by promising they have "a true friend and champion" in the Oval Office, which made him the first sitting president to speak to the NRA.

And with Republicans monopolizing power in the White House and in Congress, chances of gun reform measures anytime soon seem unlikely.

Posted in: AMERICAS

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