Most people go to Las Vegas to let their hair down and have fun. Famed for its neon lights and relentless energy, Vegas is a place people associate with letting loose and embracing a hedonistic lifestyle. Scenes of opulent hotels, all-night parties and revelers having the time of their life are par for the course, but this all changed on Sunday 1st October. Shrouded in sadness, the city that never sleeps fell silent as hundreds of people were injured, and 59 people lost their lives in America’s most deadly shooting. As a sniper, later named as Stephen Paddock, sent bullets flying from a room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, more than 500 people who were innocently enjoying a music festival were caught up in one of the most significant events in modern American history. Gun control is an issue that constantly boils beneath the surface, and it didn’t take long for fresh calls to be made for tighter restrictions. As the world watches on and Americans question what’s next, it’s more important than ever to put the spotlight on regulation.
The laws and what they mean
If you’re not American, gun control restrictions can seem baffling. In the US, gun crime is one of the most potent threats to civilians. We read all about mass shootings in the news, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg. If you delve deeper into gun crime statistics, the situation is even more alarming than you may have anticipated. In 2015 alone, there were 372 mass shootings in the US resulting in 475 deaths. Of this number, 64 shootings took place in schools. In total, more than 1,870 people were injured in that 12 month period. The Las Vegas shooting, the most recent event to hit the headlines, injured more than 500 people and killed 59.
Gun control is a tricky subject to approach, not least because regulations vary according to where you live. Speaking in interviews in the aftermath of the Vegas tragedy, experts including police sheriffs and a gun rights attorney pointed out that gun control is relatively relaxed in the state of Nevada. The reality of the situation is that people are still able to access guns and if they really want to, they can get hold of weapons even in states like Illinois where there are more stringent measures in place. During his presidency, Barack Obama repeatedly called for tighter controls, and President Trump has spoken out after the Vegas attack, but the US remains a hotspot for gun crime. Rates of gun-related fatalities are 30 times higher than in the UK. Sixty percent of murders are related to firearms, compared to 31 percent in Canada, 18.2 percent in Australia and 10 percent in the UK.
Every time there’s a mass shooting in the US, advocates and campaign groups rally for change, but there’s little evidence to suggest that the situation will improve anytime soon. Terrorism is a constant threat, regulations are far more relaxed than in other countries, and there’s an underlying tension between those who support gun ownership and those who oppose it.
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