The mass shootings in America have, over the years, turned into a macabre ritual and acquired a sense of numbing familiarity. The latest massacre at Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s modern history, comes as a grim reminder of how an unbridled gun culture has been playing havoc with society. The alarming regularity with which these occur, killing school children, shoppers and party-goers, evokes a sense of utter helplessness in a country whose lawmakers have failed to stand up to the powerful gun lobby and formulate a bipartisan gun control laws. While investigators are still unsure of the motive of the Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old man with no criminal record, the key question that needs to be answered is why weapons of war are so easily accessible to people who have no business to wield them. The killer, armed with automatic weapons, opened fire from a vantage point of his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, targeting a tightly packed crowd of thousands of people attending a music festival. The mind-numbing attack has left 50-odd people dead and over 200 injured. Though ISIS claimed responsibility for the brutal act, the investigators have not found any connections to the Islamic terrorist group. It is time for American lawmakers to keep aside the ideological rhetoric surrounding the freedom to possess guns, acknowledge the elephant in the room, make a candid introspection of the crisis on hand and work in a bipartisan way to regulate gun laws.
While President Donald Trump’s affinity with the National Rifle Association, an influential advocate of gun rights, is very well known, his predecessor Barack Obama did make some sincere efforts to check the menace of gun culture but could not get the support from Congress. He had aggressively advocated for more gun-control and safety measures during his time in office and called his failure to pass significant reforms one of the greatest frustrations of his presidency. Obama delivered 17 speeches following mass shootings during his eight years in office, which saw 37 mass shootings on American soil. The innocent could be safer only if the country bans assault rifles with large ammunition magazines that are used by the mass murderers. The Second Amendment, approved in the era of single-shot muskets, should not be invoked to block common sense limits on firepower and it should not be used to stand in the way of more thorough background checks on prospective gun buyers. The background checks need to be expanded on guns purchased in gun shows and over the internet while people with mental health issues should not have access to guns.