On Sunday night, a shooting at a Las Vegas concert left 59 dead and over 500 people injured. According to the New York Times, a lone gunman fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort into the crowd. A reported 22,000 people had gathered to watch country singer Jason Aldeans at a three-day country music festival. The shooter, 64-year old Stephen Paddock, committed suicide in his hotel room before police arrived.
This tragedy is now the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history — a title that previously belonged to last summer’s Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. Before Pulse in 2016, there was the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012. And it’s been over a decade since the Virginia Tech massacre where a student killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus. In between those horrors have been countless other mass shootings. Fear of mass violence has crept into schools, movie theatres, and concerts, among other public places.
Of course, gun violence in the United States is not just limited to mass shootings. According to the Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund, an average of 93 American adults die from guns each day. While almost two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides, there’s still an average of 12,000 gun homicides per year. One of the reasons this number is so high, especially compared to other developed nations, is the sheer number of guns owned in the U.S. America counts for 4.4 percent of the world’s population and 42 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. As reported by Vox, research links gun accessibility and prevalence to gun deaths, as well as to suicide and domestic violence.
Gun control is possible. A commonly cited example is Australia’s sweeping gun reform after a 1996 mass shooting. Australia hasn’t had a mass shooting since. And it was under a right-leaning leadership that gun ownership restrictions were enacted, and this happened even though Australia has its own share of gun-loving individualists.
Mass shootings and everyday gun homicides show the United States has a problem that needs to be solved. It’s too late to talk about gun control. We need action.
Here’s how you can help: Donate to a gun reform group like Everytown. You can also call your members of Congress to them them you’re a constituent who expects their representative to take strong action on gun reform. You can find your representative’s name and contact information here.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Sascha Brück
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Kat Kothen-Hill is a BUST intern living in Brooklyn, NY.
Follow her on Twitter:@katkothenhill and on Instagram:kitkatkothenhill.