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Gun Control: Learning from Las Vegas
Kye Liew '18 Contributing Writer
October 25, 2017

On October 2nd, 2017, a lone wolf shooter killed at least 59 people and injured 512 at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. He had stockpiled 20 guns, some procured illegally.

Many observers took a somber, mournful point of view and wanted to focus on the tragedy and its victims, making offerings of thoughts and prayers. Some believed that then was not the time to speak about gun control, that that would be considered twisting tragedies for political gain. Calls were made for unity, and the debate for gun control was hushed.

Credit: Claire Zhang

The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 struck deep within me. I had no personal connection to the plane nor the victims, but there was a deep national connection, as we united in the face of national tragedy. However, that did not stop us from questioning its cause, possible motives, and how to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. We trawled through information regarding the pilot, the flight crew, the airplane’s own safety features, and the lack of communication. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) worked on implementing new measures to track aircraft.

We were astounded that, in our day and age, a large passenger aircraft could just disappear.

When Germanwings flight 9525 crashed in March 2015, we debated pilot psychology. To prevent further tragedies from occurring, measures were taken to ensure that two authorized personnel are always in the cockpit of a commercial flight. We analyzed the tragedy and sought to prevent it.

We were astounded that a pilot was allowed to fly a passenger plane having been diagnosed with “suicidal tendencies.”

Over the summer, the Grenfell tower tragedy dominated headlines. Fires, a tragedy that seemed to belong in the past suddenly came back into view. We debated building safety codes, building management irresponsibility and the government’s inaction in ensuring that all buildings fulfilled the city’s fire codes. The structural integrity of urban tower blocks was immediately called into question. The claddings on Grenfell were investigated for being a possible safety hazard. We worked to prevent it from occurring again.

We were astounded that in London, one of the most developed cities in the world, there were still instances of blatant disregard for building safety.

I am in similar disbelief that mass shootings in America can occur on such a regular basis, but never stir up enough debate on gun laws to be at least discussed rigorously in Congress. I accept that it is the right of every American citizen, as given by the Constitution, to own and carry firearms; however, I believe the extent to which that law can be stretched has to be limited. The Vegas shooting has to be a wakeup call. It exposes the inadequacies of the current legislation that a man was able to procure such a large number of firearms so easily. Law is organic, no matter how sacred. I understand that the Constitution is the bedrock of the American legal system, but it should be, like any other law, subject to change. A law introduced in 1791 is not as applicable now as it may have been then. Although a full repeal of this right is extreme, I believe additional measures can be taken to find a compromise between fundamental American rights and an ever changing and developing society.