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Editorial: Too many guns

The "Open Carry" link from www.nevadacarry.org.
The "Open Carry" link from www.nevadacarry.org.

Some mornings, it’s especially good to wake up in a country where citizens don’t have a constitutional right to bear arms.

That may sound flippant, given the number of people killed and wounded by a lone gunman in Las Vegas Sunday night, but it’s also sadly true.

Sunday saw more than 50 people killed, and 406 taken to hospital, all by a single shooter using automatic weapons to target a concert.

The shooter killed himself as police broke into his hotel room, which was apparently filled with weapons.

Weapons in Nevada are far from an uncommon thing; website Nevada Carry hails itself as “Nevada’s best resource for gun laws and gun-rights news,” and lists a series of Nevada gun law basics.

“Concealed weapons permits are-shall issue and open carry is legal without a permit. Nevada does not ban 'assault weapons’ and there is no magazine capacity limit. There are no purchase permits, gun registration, or gun-owner licensing. … There is no waiting period mandated for firearm purchases and private gun sales are okay. Local gun laws are prohibited.”

Even fully automatic weapons are allowed, if registered. Large capacity magazines are not prohibited.

It’s a very different world.

After the shooting, the Nevada Carry site had this message: “This is not the time to talk about gun control. This was the terrorist attack we have long feared coming to Las Vegas. … Banning this or that gun would not have prevented this.”

You can be forgiven if it all sounds like the same arguments over and over again, arguments that keep weapons in the hands of people willing to undertake violent actions.

Can things change?

Perhaps. But when they didn’t change after 27 people, mostly children, were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook in 2012, or when 50 people died in an Orlando nightclub in 2016, or when 32 died in the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shootings, you have to wonder just what it would take.

The Gun Violence Archive, keeping track of gun violence statistics since 2013, has counted 11,652 gun deaths this year, and 23,512 injuries. It lists 273 mass shootings — just for 2017. As Newsweek pointed out, that’s more mass shootings in the United States than there have been days so far this year.

The Mass Shooting Tracker lists even more — 338 incidents where four or more people are shot.

Some make the national news in the United States for a day or a week. Some are news only in local papers. On the same day as the Las Vegas shooting, three people were killed and two injured in a mass shooting in Lawrence, Kansas.

A popular argument is that guns don’t kill people, people do.

But more to the point, people with guns kill people.

People with more and larger guns kill more people. People with automatic weapons kill even more people.

We’re lucky here that so few people have those deadly tools. 

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