On Oct. 2, a shooter killed 58 and injured more than 500 people attending a country music festival at the Las Vegas Strip from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. It was the mostly deadly mass shooting in modern American history.
In response, there was a public outcry to enact more comprehensive gun control laws to prevent tragedies like this from occurring again, which journalists and pundits echoed.
If now “isn’t the time to politicize gun control,” then there is no time to do so. We just saw the largest mass murder in US History!
— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) October 7, 2017
Well, Im a republican & a gun owner whos for gun control. Why? Um.. lets see.. no more mass shooting by the mentally ill comes to mind 1st.
— Wise_Cat (@wizeKatz) October 5, 2017
You mean like requiring registration, licensing, and insurance? Whew, you’re right, that’d be nuts. https://t.co/JL909Xxtw5
— Jason Kander (@JasonKander) October 7, 2017
“Americans debate these approaches [to gun control] not because they are likely to be effective, but because the methods that will work — that have worked in every other advanced society — are here politically taboo,” wrote David Frum in an Atlantic op-ed criticizing the pervasiveness of guns in American culture.
“Spectacular mass killings happen in America far more often than anywhere else, and not just because we make massacre-perfect weapons so easy to buy,” wrote Kurt Andersen in a Slate op-ed examining the mentality opposing gun-control.
“The NRA has won,” Andersen continued. “Yet the group and its compatriots seem no less paranoid or angry, still convinced that tyranny is right around the corner and that federal agents are coming for their guns.”
There has also been more politically driven outrage with the gun control debate, aimed directly at the current administration.
“It is hard for the White House to say the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the time to talk about policy,” wrote The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers. “The idea that the White House refuses to discuss the issue so soon after tragedy does not match the reality.”
Even mainstream late-night comedy hosts addressed the tragedy and largely called for gun control.
“I don’t think it should be so easy for one demented person to kill so many people so quickly,” said Conan O’Brien at the top of his show.
“And the 2nd Amendment, I guess. Our forefathers wanted us to have AK-47s is the argument, I assume,” said Jimmy Kimmel, who spent part of his childhood in Vegas. “Some of [the shooter’s] guns were there legally. Why is that allowed?”
The responses of the late-night hosts drew the ire of some conservative pundits, both on policy substance and messaging.
“You want to know why the American people are so divided? It’s because there are certain people in the American public discourse who feel it necessary to impute bad motives to people who disagree, and that’s what Kimmel’s doing here,” said Ben Shapiro for his podcast, directly responding to Kimmel’s impassioned speech.
“At what point does the propaganda become so blatant that you just have to tune out?” asked conservative talk-show host Stephen Crowder. “Second Amendment, Founding Fathers. Just because you act like these reasons are absurd doesn’t make them absurd.”
Pundits have also taken to discussing whether or not more comprehensive gun laws would really stop mass shootings like Vegas from happening again.
No, I do not want Feinstein, Schumer, Pelosi exploiting the ATF’s dereliction of duty to introduce wide-sweeping gun control.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) October 6, 2017
FACTS that liberals can’t comprehend:
• Gun control does not work
• Criminals do not follow laws
• Guns keep us safe from criminals
— Rightly News (@RightlyNews) October 5, 2017
Statistician and former FiveThirtyEight writer Leah Libresco recounted her previous experience researching gun control laws and found that “almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them.”
Libresco proposed that legislators should instead focus on protecting “potential victims and reforming potential killers,” rather than banning certain kinds of guns altogether.
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox himself claimed that banning things like bump stocks — potential legislation that Congress is thinking of passing in response to this shooting — would not have stopped shootings like the one in Vegas from occurring.
Gun control, like many issues, seems to reflect the clear partisan divides among the American electorate and media. The conversation, while fairly substantive and policy-driven at times, shows how partisan rhetoric can alienate both sides of the aisle.
In the upcoming weeks, it will certainly be interesting to see if Congress acts on public desire for more gun control regulations in response to the tragedy, or if it appeals to the portion of the electorate more concerned with self-defense and preserving the right to bear arms.