Today, yet another American city is left reeling in the aftermath of a devastating and record-breaking mass shooting. From the 32nd floor of his hotel room, a 64-year-old gunman with at least 23 firearms in his possession fired indiscriminately into a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas. While the human toll of this tragedy has risen throughout the day, at present—with 59 lives lost and more than 520 injured—this tragic event has already surpassed last year’s nightclub shooting at Pulse in Orlando as the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Too many of these shameful records have been broken in the last decade. In fact, all but three of the most deadly mass shootings in the country’s history have taken place in the last 10 years. Still, it is important to remember that this constant state of crisis is neither normal nor inevitable.
According to our research, Nevada’s gun laws are some of the weakest in the nation. Despite passing a 2016 ballot initiative requiring background checks on private sales and transfers of firearms, as of this month, the law has yet to be implemented. The state also fails to limit the number of firearms an individual can purchase at one time, enabling people to amass arsenals like the one found in the shooter’s hotel room. Among other dangerous gaps in the state’s gun laws, Nevada does not prohibit the transfer or possession of machine guns, assault weapons, 50 caliber rifles, or regulate large capacity ammunition magazines—policies that might have mitigated the amount of carnage the gunman was able to inflict.
Instead of using every tool available to prevent further tragedies, some legislators are trying to chip away at lifesaving regulations. In his remarks this morning, the president rightfully praised the speed and efficiency of first responders who were able to quickly locate the shooter and prevent even more death. However, legislation introduced earlier this year, and supported by the corporate gun lobby, would deregulate silencers, making them available to far more people than ever before and making the job of first responders all the more difficult. Amidst the chaos of a loud concert, with tens of thousands of people in attendance, it’s difficult to imagine the carnage that may have ensued without the sound of gunshots and a visible muzzle flash.
As these mass shootings with ever-increasing body counts continue, one thing is clear: this is not the time roll back the smart gun laws that are proven to protect public safety. As always, our hearts are with the victims and their families during this painful moment. Their courage and resilience is our inspiration as we continue fighting for the gun laws that can make this country safer.