Headlines on October 2nd featured a phrase that has become increasingly prevalent throughout the nation—“Largest mass shooting in US history.” In continuing with an alarming trend of shootings, dating back to the deadly Columbine massacre of 1999, a tragedy befell Las Vegas on the night of October 1st. At the Route 91 country music festival, Jason Aldean was performing when shots were suddenly heard piercing through the music. While festival goers thought the bullets were fireworks that accompanied the show, it soon became clear that was not the case. In an act of terrorism, Stephan Paddock took the lives of 58 people and injured 546 others in the process; his motives for doing so are still unknown. However, his heinous actions have sparked, yet again, a gun control debate within the US.
When asked about their thoughts on the horrific events that transpired on that night in Las Vegas, Queens College students mainly voiced their opposition to gun use. Dennis Garcia, an upper sophomore, said, “The shooting, as is each and every one that occurs, [resulted in] terrible loss of life and another reason why regulations must be increased on gun control…I really feel that it should be much more difficult to purchase firearms and a ban on high capacity magazines. Any gun-related purchase should require a background check as well. It’s not a solution to mass shootings and gun violence, but it’s a start.” Yasly Gonzalez, a Junior, echoed the same sentiments: “I felt like the Vegas situation was a devastating event because it instantly killed an exciting moment of festivities amongst everyone. People were not worried about what could go wrong that day, but wanted to create new memories…it’s unfair that any place people come to together to have fun [can] turn into a mass shooting.” Personally, I go to a lot of concerts myself and I would be lying if I said I never felt anxious; since the shooting at The Dark Knight Rises movie premiere in Aurora, Colorado all those years ago, large gatherings in public spaces worry me. Gun control is something that we should have a debate on not just when we’re hit with the shell shock of tragedy, but prior to it to assure that we minimize the casualties while we can.
The thing is, we’ve become desensitized in the way that we process the amount of shootings that we have on a yearly, even monthly, basis. Each time a shooting happens it sparks debate, but there has yet to be progressive movement forward. There will be talks about change, but until the public outcry for change is consistent it’s safe to say that there won’t be any changes. Which is why we must come together and be more outspoken when it comes to gun control—for backgrounds checks, for making sure that side equipment, like the one that Stephan Paddock used to transform one of his semi-automatic weapons into an automatic weapon, which currently has no restrictions on it, is prohibited if and when gun laws are amended. I know that it is naive to believe that stricter gun laws will lead to the eradication of all shootings; it won’t stop people from buying them illegally or from searching for ways to import them. Yet, it will be a step in the right direction, as it can help decrease the amount of people who can have access to equipment and weapons that can potentially be used to harm people. It’s easy to move on from these tragedies and forget about what happened until the next time a tragedy occurs, but we must use the calamities of Miami Pulse, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Las Vegas, and the rest of the horrifyingly long list of mass shootings that we’ve endured, as reminders to do better and take serious action, not only to honor the people that have become casualties, but to prevent another person from becoming one again.