Vegas shooting ignites Second Amendment debate
Staggering numbers, 59 dead and 489 wounded - the grave statistics in what is being called the most tragic shooting in modern U.S. history. On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of spectators at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. From his room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel overlooking the festival, Paddock discharged hundreds of bullets into concert goers.
Social Studies Department Chair Paul Stellpflug sees this latest tragedy as a need to revisit Second Amendment debate.
“I understand those who have a devotion to unregulated gun ownership and usage in a very broad interpretation of the Second Amendment, but we in America do have a lot of gun deaths. If we look at deaths on American highways, we’re not going to ban cars,” he said. “However, in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t make us all that violent of a people when you compare us to other nations that are way, way worse than us.”
While a change to the amendment may prevent actual shootings, the challenge runs deeper in how to rehabilitate the mental health concerns of the person behind the trigger. Assuming Paddock had survived to be arrested, the question of his hypothetical punishment remains.
“I would think that Nevada would put Paddock up for the death penalty, as long as he’s off the streets,” Stellpflug said.
Another issue in the aftermath of the tragedy stems from criticism regarding the efficiency and speed of first responders at the scene of the shooting.
“If I was a first responder on the scene, I would wait a little while to make sure I had backup and everything on my side because at the end of the day, I want to go home that night,” Stellpflug said. “So, first responders have to be cautious. America might want to condemn the slowness, but these people have spouses and they want to go home. I am not one to fault a ‘slow’ response.”
Former Liaison Officer Dave Johnson does not believe this tragedy calls for modification of a Constitutional right.
“Congress only uses these mass shootings to push greater control of an individual’s gun rights,” he said. “It is already illegal to use a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime, so passing more laws with the idea it will somehow magically reduce gun violence is ridiculous.”
Johnson feels there was no way to stop this tragic incident from occurring.
“The violence that we see today goes beyond a person’s ability to get hold of a firearm. This guy could have accomplished the same amount of death and injury by going to the local hardware store and buying the chemicals needed to make a bomb and setting it off,” he said.
To prove his theory, Johnson points to a seeming paradox.
“Chicago and California have some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country, yet they have some of the highest rates of gun violence also,” he said.
Looking into the laws of these states, Johnson sees no connection between Second Amendment rights and such tragedies.
“No one can predict how the next tragedy will happen, so trying to pass laws ahead of time with the idea it will prevent them will just not happen,” he said.
Tragedies such as the Las Vegas shooting shed light on heroism within every community, according to Johnson, even when these heroes will not claim the credit.
“I don’t think that any police officer or first responder considers what they did as heroic,” he said. “They were there and did what their training and experience had taught them to do.”
by Akashraj Karthikeyan