Maggie Connolly ’21
This past Monday was the one-year anniversary of the shooting at a Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas. At the concert, 58 people were killed and 489 were injured. This week, Las Vegas took the time to remember those who lost their lives or loved ones. As a nation, the United States must take this time to revisit the gun control debate.
With so many social issues taking the forefront in politics in the past few years, there is a tendency to focus on one or two of these issues at a time. Issues like the Las Vegas shooting last year often brings gun control to the forefront of the political table. Although many Americans do believe in stricter gun laws, those who believe in the Constitution as a document that should be interpreted literally often have an issue with any kinds of alteration of the 2nd Amendment, providing Americans with the right to bear arms.
However, it is hard to believe that the founders of the United States could have foreseen the state of America now. Although it is true that there is no foolproof way to know what the founders would have wanted, it is evident that a lot of Americans agree with this sentiment.
According to a TIME article, 94 percent of voters support background checks, including 93 percent of Republicans. Likewise, 30 percent of these 256 gun owners support stricter gun laws. For an issue with such opposition and so little change in the government since these mass-shootings have continued over team, these percentages could be feasibly surprising.
This is a direct representation of what it means to live in an American conception of democracy. Although there is opportunity for public vote and consensus on issues through referendum, like we have seen through state-by-state voting on the legalization of marijuana, when issues are taken to the national government, typically interest groups such as the NRA with an abundance of wealthy members see success, regardless of national consensus.
The NRA has an annual operating budget of approximately a quarter of a billion dollars and between 2000 and 2010, it spent 15 times as much on campaign contributions than just typical gun-control activists did (The New Yorker). There is also a great sense of devotion and belonging amongst the members of the NRA. These individuals have the assets and lifestyles that promote voting and political participation. It is a lot easier to mobilize behind a cause if you have the resources to participate in elections and a high enough level of education and influence to successfully lobby government officials and voters to get behind their stance.
The success of the NRA is not meant to deter opponents of the organization to simply give up. This is the time to act an mobilize against this powerful movement. Although the U.S. democracy promotes wealth and systemic advantages when it comes to passing and advocating for policy, the masses still have a voice. Although surveys and percentages can be deceiving, and nothing can be exact when it comes to polling, it is clear that Americans feel some sense of unity behind the issue of gun control.
In a time of so much political polarization and heavy identity politics, an issue of at least some form consolidation of the two parties needs to generate support for this issue. Although different individuals and parties may have differing stances on the specifics of the issue, mass shootings such as the one last year in Las Vegas at public events, where everyone is susceptible to the evils of gun violence, emphasize the need for cross-party demonstration in the fight against gun control.
Photo Courtesy of Billboard