Samuel Northrup, Editor in Chief
On Sunday night, Las Vegas, a city known for its nightlife, was hosting the final day of the Route 91 Harvest festival, a major country music concert, when a gunman opened fire on concertgoers, killing 59 and injuring over 500.
The shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire on the crowd of nearly 22,000 people from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino located several hundred feet away from the concert, according to CNN. Paddock took his own life before he could be apprehended by law enforcement.
According to the Washington Post, the lone gunman had almost two dozen guns in the hotel room he was in with “at least a dozen of the 23 firearms recovered” found to be “semiautomatic rifles legally modified to fire like automatic weapons, using an alteration known as a bump fire stock.”
Sunday’s tragedy is now considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
“I really hope things get better and they receive the aid and help they need,” Utica College student Devella Freeman said. “Rest in peace to the souls we lost, the people we lost in the shooting.”
The definition of a mass shooting varies, but according to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit corporation that provides information on gun violence in the United States, a mass shooting is defined as any incident when four or more people are shot or killed in the same general time-frame and location. Based on this definition, Sunday’s shooting was the most recent of 273 mass shootings that occurred this year, nearing the 2016 total of 383, per the Gun Violence Archive website.
While the number of mass shootings this year continues to grow, the debate surrounding the country’s gun policy continues.
“I think when you think about gun policy in the United States we’re in a bit of a unique position in regards to the amount of individual freedom we afford people to possess firearms and that correlates with high rates of gun violence compared to other western democracies that don’t have those freedoms,” Professor of Government and Politics Luke Perry said.
According to CNN, the US has 31 percent of global mass shooters from 1966 to 2012 while Americans own 48 percent of the estimated 650 million civilian-owned guns worldwide as of 2007.
“I don’t think it’s likely national policy is going to change for some time,” Perry said. “There’s been a majority of Americans who favor more limitations on access to firearms, such as prohibiting people who have mental illness from obtaining a firearm, prohibiting people on the no-fly list to have a firearm, prohibiting assault weapons, prohibiting high-ammunition clips. There’s a majority of Americans who have for some time thought that all of these things should be done.”
While surveys, per CNN, show Republicans and Democrats agree on the issues Perry mentioned, the political rift in Congress is affecting the legislative process on gun policy.
“It doesn’t seem to me we’re at one of those moments [where political will will be affected by tragedy],” Perry said. “Our country as divided as it’s been in terms of partisanship since the Civil War, it doesn’t seem likely that whatever political differences there are over this between Republicans and Democrats, that they’re going to be resolved in the wake of this tragedy anytime soon. Maybe in five, 10, 15 years that will change.”
As a result of the shootings, students are feeling a mixture of sorrow for the lives that were lost and frustration over Paddock’s ability to carry out the shooting with legally retrofitted weapons.
“We have so many shootings in the U.S. now, like one after another,” junior Anand Buch said. “I feel bad for everyone involved.”
Buch feels that people with potentially volatile psychiatric disorders should not be allowed to purchase firearms and that the types of guns and ammunition that can be legally sold should be limited.
Sophomore Nicole Collette was shocked at the details of the shooting but not at the news there was another mass shooting.
“The way that things have been going lately, you’re kind of just waiting all the time for something to happen,” she said.
At the same time, Collette describes the policymakers handling of gun violence as “pretty bad.”
“I think they’re treating it like a black or white issue, either you can have guns or you can have nothing, either you get your right or you don’t,” Collette explained. “There really needs to be restrictions on what kinds of guns. If you can have a gun that’s going to be able to kill that many people that quickly, you don’t need that to defend yourself.”
Adam Ziobrowski, a sophomore, was left asking one simple question when he heard about the shooting: “Why?”
“I believe people have the right to have guns, but you don’t need AK-47s, you don’t need assault rifles,” he said. “Those aren’t self-defense weapons, those aren’t hunting weapons.”
Given the loss of life and hundreds injured, Ziobrowski hopes legislation is passed to reform gun policy in the US.
“It’s more than thoughts and prayers,” he said. “The thoughts and prayers are good but act on it.”