There is no arguing that America has a problem with gun violence. The problem is that no one is really sure how to tackle this growing epidemic. With the latest incident in Las Vegas and its large death toll — perpetrated by just one man with over 40 guns — many legislatures are calling for a revamping of the gun law statutes and criminal laws related to who can own guns and how many a person can have.
There is a good argument to be made that the Law Vegas shooter didn’t need to be in ownership of over 40 guns. The question is whether anyone was regulating his stockpile of weapons. The answer to that would be “no.” There are no criminal laws in place about how many guns can be purchased by anyone who passes the background check . But even many gun violence advocates would ask, why does anyone need that type of firearms collection?
Immediately following the carnage, many legislatures were already talking about tightening gun laws to get guns out of the hands of those who would use them maliciously. The biggest counter to their argument is that there wasn’t anything in the Las Vegas shooter’s past to suggest that he had any intent to hurt anyone. With no manifesto, political affiliation acknowledgment, or history of violence or threats, he wasn’t what anyone would have labeled a danger to society. So, would putting stricter gun laws in place really have prevented him from doing what he did?
There is evidence that making guns laws stricter has no relation to curbing gun violence. One of the best cases in point is the city of Chicago. With one of the highest death rates from gun violence in the nation, the city currently has some of the strictest gun laws in America. It would appear that enacting more restrictive laws does nothing to dissuade those who kill from doing so. The problem isn’t always the people that obtain guns legally; typically, the issue is with those who get them illegally.
Wanting the nation to have time to grieve and to focus on the families who lost loved ones, the Trump Administration did not say that they would not consider criminal gun laws. Instead, they said that it was not an issue to discuss right now and that the victims need time to heal, if they ever can. When asked what the White House intends to do about gun laws and violence, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders simply commented that there are over 4000 victims of gun-related crimes in Chicago where the laws are among the strictest, and those laws have done nothing to stop the number of deaths.
Gun law opponents have debunked the notion that Chicago has one of the strictest gun laws around the nation. They insist that although Illinois has tough laws and is one of only seven states that require permits or licenses to carry firearms, and the only one that requires a waiting period, the gun violence in Chicago is about something bigger than laws. States like California, where the gun laws are truly the strictest, have one of the lowest gun-related crime rates in the nation. Although Chicago is rated about a B+ for gun law control, California is rated an A.
When you analyze the data, it would appear that strict gun laws in one state can be overridden merely by people going to the next state over, which would suggest that maybe anti-gun advocates should consider making gun laws at the federal level to ensure that guns aren’t just being bought and sold and carried across state lines.
To date, there has been no proof that enacting stricter gun laws has made a difference in the populations with the highest gun violence rates. California has never had a problem, so even if they are rated an A, they never had the high crime rate to curb. Chicago, while rated a B+, is trying to stop an avalanche of low-income crime with laws that don’t seem to be touching many communities.
Should the shooter have been able to stockpile 43 guns? That might be a good question, but there is very little evidence that simply changing gun laws will have much of an effect on gun violence. It will likely be more important that gun violence is considered not just from a legislative perspective, but also socio-economic, mental, and trend perspectives, to truly try to curb gun violence, especially the mass shooting epidemics.