Shooting in Las Vegas Re-Energizes Gun Control Debate
It's a typical Monday in the United States. In other words, a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel Sunday night, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500 others attending a country music festival, according to officials.
This is the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Law enforcement officials identified Stephan Paddock, 64, from Mesquite, Nevada, as the gunman. Las Vegas Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters Monday that authorities believe Paddock killed himself before police entered his room.
Democratic lawmakers called on Congress to act promptly in response to the shooting, with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) saying it is “time for Congress to get off its ass and do something” on gun control, and that it is “cruelly hollow” for politicians to back up their words of sympathy with legislative action in a statement.
The revived plea for gun control was reiterated by the another Democratic senator from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, who said he was “furious” at Congress’ repeated inaction in the face of mass shootings.
The Connecticut senators have spoken out in favor of stricter gun control regulation, a matter that became personal to them in 2012 when a shooter opened fire at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The shooter killed 20 students and six adults, before taking his own life, in Newtown, Connecticut.
While Democrats in Congress have reinvigorated the gun control debate hours after the shooting, Republican members offered their thoughts and prayers to the victims and first responders.
Tragedies like Las Vegas typically reignite the, perhaps cyclical, left vs. right debate about guns, with Democrats pushing for stricter regulations and Republicans rejecting them.
Republicans argue that such laws impede Second Amendment rights. (It’s worthwhile to note that gun rights groups, like the National Rifle Association (NRA), overwhelmingly favor the right, at least when money is concerned – and donate significantly more cash to the right than gun control groups do to the left, according to Open Secrets.)
In the upcoming months, the GOP will be trying to loosen gun laws with three proposals.
The first, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017, aims to ease regulations on the purchase of gun silencers, one of the most heavily regulated products in the gun industry, arguing that they are imperative to protect gun owners’ hearing. Those against silencers argue they are necessary for public safety. The bill also seeks to eliminate a $200 government tax that is attached to the purchase of silencers as well as some of the paperwork that is required to buy one. This legislation is co-sponsored by 165 representatives and is heading to the house floor.
The second bill, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (the SHARE Act) also pushes for the deregulation of silencers but for hunting’s sake.
The third and final bill, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, seeks to allow concealed carry permit holders to take their weapons across state borders, but only if that state also permits concealed carry weapons. The legislation was drafted by Rep. Richard Hudson (R- N.C.) and is co-sponsored by 212 representatives.
Following the events in Las Vegas, these bills are bound to face heavy deliberation when they reach the Senate floor. It’s unclear whether the GOP will be able to pass new measures on the issue, but one thing is certain: bipartisanship would be an anomaly in this series of unfortunate events.