Opinion: We need frank conversations over gun laws


The police found 42 guns on Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, according to CBS. 42. 23 of the firearms were found by police in his hotel suite and another 19 at his home in Mesquite, NV. No matter your stance on gun control, that is a startling amount of firepower to have on your person.

Not only did authorities find 42 guns on Paddock, but also explosives, thousands of rounds of ammunition and ammonia nitrate, a major component of explosive devices, in his car. Paddock had even modified all of his weapons to be fully automatic. In the end, he murdered 59 people and injured 527 people.

42 guns. 59 dead. 527 injured. All of these big numbers amount to the deadliest mass shooting in US history. The statement “deadliest mass shooting” isn’t an unfamiliar one to our generation. Just last year at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, a mass shooting left 49 dead and 58 injured. At the time, the media labeled the tragedy at Pulse the deadliest mass shooting in US history. It only took a year, and the number of injured individuals alone is nearly ten times higher than Pulse.

We must be careful about politicizing death and trauma to further our agendas, but I for one am tired of hearing that statement. This national tragedy cannot go ignored and demands a reasonable discussion so that this cannot occur again.

Gun critics often cite Australia as an example of a country with strict regulations and low amounts of gun violence. In fact, Australia has not had a mass shooting in over 20 years. In April of 1996, a man with two semiautomatic rifles killed 35 people, injuring at least 18 others. Two months after this event, Australia introduced its National Firearms Agreement, banning semiautomatic long guns, the type of guns used in the shooting. This agreement did not ban all firearms as is commonly believed, but it did make purchasing them more challenging. Before purchasing a firearm, people must show a “genuine need,” as well as pass a safety test, show good moral character and wait at least 28 days. They also cannot have any restraining orders for violence, among other restrictions.

Daniel Webster, a health policy researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, published a recent study analyzing the differences between Australia and US gun regulations.

“In Australia, they look at someone’s full record and ask, ‘Is this a good idea to let this person have a firearm?’” Webster said in his research. “We do pretty much the opposite. The burden is on the government to show that you are too dangerous to have a firearm.”

The US is its own worst enemy when it comes to gun regulations. We have imposed laws which hinder cooperation between states and the federal government, found loopholes in background checks through gun shows and created an inability to properly investigate without dividing our government and nation.

Stephen Paddock had 42 fully automatic weapons, some of which he used in a gruesome display of hate and terrorism. We as a nation have been forced to endure the pain of yet another deadliest shooting, in which people who were initially enjoying a night of fun and music were brutally gunned down. 42 guns, 59 dead and 527 injured. These numbers must never happen again.