Columns, Opinion

BURKE: When will we draw the line?

Stephen Paddock changed the way Americans felt about their safety when he opened fire on a country music festival late Sunday night in Las Vegas. He took away the sense of security we had started to get back after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando a little over a year ago.

Early reports estimate over 50 dead and over 500 injured. First responders and those who were at the concert displayed an immense amount of courage, risking their lives to save others. But make no mistake here: despite the fact that he is a local, white male, Paddock is a terrorist — even though it seems the mainstream media is afraid to call him that. It is entirely possible to be a terrorist without pledging allegiance to a foreign extremist group.

It doesn’t matter if Paddock voted Republican, Democrat or Independent. What matters is the fact that he killed Americans.

Please do not use his political background to further your own agenda — it is wrong and it is blatantly disrespectful to the families of those injured or killed. With that being said, I have no agenda to push, only logical questions to ask. I am not an expert on guns and I don’t pretend to be.

I believe that Americans have every right to possess a gun, this matter is protected under the Second Amendment. I do not believe that any American needs an automatic rifle. There is no good reason to own or carry one. I know that the vast majority of gun owners are good, law abiding citizens. I know that most people are responsible with guns. My friend on Twitter posed a good question, writing, “Why should we all live in fear just so some people get to play with guns?”

According to the Las Vegas Sun, the suspect had 23 guns in his hotel room when police found him. How in the world did he acquire and bring so many guns into a hotel without anyone noticing?

The fact of the matter is this: Nevada has some of the loosest gun laws in America. Whether that contributed to Paddock’s firearm purchase and subsequent shooting remains to be seen. However, this situation begs a very important question: how many more shootings are going to take place before America cracks down on the sale, regulation and distribution of guns?

Nevada law says you can legally purchase a machine gun as long as it has previously been federally registered. Nevada also has no limit on the magazine size that you can purchase — something that is strikingly evident in videos showing the shooter firing for 20 seconds at a time. The last thing that stuck out to me about Nevada gun laws was that there is no waiting period for purchasing a firearm, meaning you can walk into a store and walk out with a gun that day.

I don’t know how any of these laws make any sense. On top of it all, and it actually sounds like a joke — you can carry a real firearm on the Las Vegas Strip, but not a toy gun, because that might scare people.

Why would any citizen need a machine gun? Why do citizens need extended magazines for said machine guns? Why does Nevada operate like it is the Wild West?

This issue of gun regulation has shifted from a political discussion to one of common sense and morality. At this point, it feels like I can almost name more mass shootings than I can presidents. People always ask: when will this violence end? These people need to wake up. Without tougher regulations on guns, the violence never ends. We leave the door open for people to acquire and use guns that should only be used by the military. Until we address this problem head on, absolutely nothing will change.

The time for arguing that these semi-automatic weapons, like the AR-15, are used just for hunting purposes are over. Newsflash: you don’t need a gun like that to kill a deer. Using a machine meant to kill other men in war time for hunting is like dropping a grenade in a lake and calling it fishing.

Politicians need to step up and vote for tougher regulations. There is no more beating around the bush. The National Rifle Association has controlled the minds of the Republican party for far too long. It is time for the majority in the House and Senate to take a stand and protect their citizens. It is the least that they could do. While the thoughts and prayers are a nice gesture, we need action.

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