IT was an unspeakable crime that happened on Oct. 1, 2017 that left the world stunned. A lone gunman, retiree Stephen Craig Paddock, occupied a hotel room in Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas and sprayed bullets into a country music concert attended by 22,000 people. With 58 people killed as a result of the shootings, the incident has become the deadliest mass killings by a lone gunman in modern United States of America. Other than those who died, 489 people were reportedly injured.
Though the mass murderer had no known criminal record, it was rather unbelievable that he was able to smuggle 23 firearms into his room, which had a vantage point of the concert. US President Donald Trump described the shooter as “a very, very sick individual” and “a demented man, (with a) lot of problems.” Visiting Las Vegas in the aftermath of the carnage, Trump commended those who attended to the victims but took no issue on the proliferation of firearms in the US. It was even revealed that the White House had issued a memo to the president’s allies to oppose calls for tightened gun control, reasoning that it “will curtail the freedoms of law abiding citizens.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA), which describes itself as a civil rights organization, said in a statement that we live “in an increasingly dangerous world” and that the organization remained focused on “strengthening Americans’ Second Amendment freedom to defend themselves, their families and their communities.” This derelict institution that was organized in 1871 or just six years after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln continues to espouse the idea of arming citizens to protect themselves from danger.
The death toll in the senseless killings of civilians in the United States has been rising through the years, but still the strong lobby by the NRA has kept politicians (affiliated with the Republican Party) mum on controlling the possession of firearms. The Las Vegas mass shooting should put the US Congress on a rethink mode in the light of Stephen Paddock’s cache of firearms, ammunition and explosives that were bought legally.
The gun industry in the US has an annual revenue of $13.5 billion with a $1.5 billion profit with gun and ammunition stores contributing $3.1 billion. In 2013, 10,847,792 pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and miscellaneous firearms were manufactured in the US. But the most horrifying number is the estimated number of guns in the US: 270-310 million.
It seems like the US economy not only flourishes during wars when there is increased military spending but also in homegrown violence when demand for guns and ammunition increase. The latter was noted on the day after the Las Vegas mass shooting when stock prices of firearms manufacturers rose, with people arming themselves against future attacks.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 07, 2017.
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