Las Vegas Shooting: America’s Deadly Gun Culture to be Blamed

Mandalay bay shooting is a grim reminder of America’s flawed gun culture that facilitates such acts of terror.

4 min read
the Mandalay Bay shooting is a grim reminder of America’s flawed gun culture that facilitates such acts of terror.
Las Vegas Shooting: America’s Deadly Gun Culture to be Blamed

What happened at Mandalay Bay was too heart-wrenching to stay buried in Las Vegas. A 64-year-old man shot down 59 people and injured 530 more, making it the deadliest shooting by a lone gunman in modern US history, surpassing the 2016 Orlando Nightclub massacre in which the attacker swore allegiance to the leader of Islamic State.

All the outrage that passionately erupted, both online and offline, like a raging volcano, when ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack evaporated when the FBI found the ‘lone wolf’ had no links with the international terrorist group.

Slowly and with hesitation, the real debate surfaced. Are gun rights the reason behind the increasing homicides in the United States of America, or any other country, where it is easy to acquire guns?

Lethal Gun Culture

America has only 4.4 percent of world population but half of the civilian-owned guns in the world. Number of Americans killed by terrorism in the last decade were 24 while more than 2,80,000 of them were killed by guns, showing how they have been safer from terrorism than from the misuse of gun rights.

Recently, Vox published an article showing how states with high numbers of gun owners (like Alaska and Kentucky) had more gun deaths as opposed to Hawaii and New Jersey where gun ownership was low.

98 percent of the US population lives within 10 miles of a federally licensed firearms dealer, making it extremely easy for anyone to acquire a gun if you are not a felon, a fugitive, an illegal immigrant or have been convicted of domestic violence in the past.

In The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote:

Man’s first law is to watch over his own preservation; his first care he owes to himself; and as soon as he reaches the age of reason, he becomes the only judge of the best means to preserve himself; he becomes his own master.

With those words, gun rights seem justified as an individual right.

In the Name of Preserving Oneself

But I wonder how it stands against Thomas Hobbes’ view of the human species, which he makes clear in Leviathan:

Everyone is governed by his own reason, and there is nothing he can make use of that may not be a help unto him in preserving his life against his enemies; it followeth that in such a condition every man has a right to everything, even to one another’s body. It is a general rule of reason: that every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war.

The text of the second amendment to the US Constitution, passed in 1791, reads:

A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

It should be noted that the right to bear arms was for the purpose of organising civil militias, responsible for the security of the new nation, both from internal threats and foreign enemies, since US didn't have an army or state paramilitary forces in 1791 when the second amendment was adopted.

But this law still prevails, ingraining itself in society to the extent that under the facade of protecting individual liberty, it has been endangering it the most – All thanks to the power of the NRA (National Rifle Association) and the gun lobbies in American politics.

Ebony Saunders, left, hugs Greg Zanis in front of his memorial crosses, on 5 October, in Las Vegas.
Ebony Saunders, left, hugs Greg Zanis in front of his memorial crosses, on 5 October, in Las Vegas.
(Photo: AP)

A Weapons Ban Won’t Help

Writer and comedian Matt Oswalt subtly describes the narrative of the Internet on shooting and consequential debates by saying:

I just hope Stephen Paddock doesn’t give a bad name to all the other perfectly ordinary Americans who stockpile automatic weapons.

The essential slogan of the libertarian campaign that “intent matters and not the medium” is correct and there is no denying the fact that people will kill people, if not with guns, then knives or other legal weapons.

And there is no denying the fact that if guns are made more difficult to acquire, a contraband market will prevail like it prevails every time liquor is banned in a state of India. But guns definitely increase causalities, and make it easier to kill more people, faster.

Maybe the answer to this universal dilemma lies again, somewhere in between Rousseau’s and Hobbes’ points of view. The latter reminds us that all of mankind is in a natural state of perpetual war, but Rousseau brings us to the middle ground. He nobly asserts, “In truth, laws are always useful to those with possessions and harmful to those who have nothing; from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all possess something and none has too much”.

(With inputs from Vox)

(The writer is a student of Medicine and Surgery. She takes a keen interest in art movies, theatre and books on history and philosophy. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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