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Now is the time to talk about gun control

With+wooden+crosses+bearing+the+names+of+those+killed+in+the+mass+shooting%2C+community+members+gather+with+candles+to+pay+tribute+to+their+loss+on+the+median+off+Las+Vegas+Boulevard+on+October+5%2C+2017+in+Las+Vegas%2C+Nevada.+Mandalay+Bay+is+in+the+background.+Greg+Zanis+of+Illinois+drove+all+night+to+deliver+the+homemade+crosses.
With wooden crosses bearing the names of those killed in the mass shooting, community members gather with candles to pay tribute to their loss on the median off Las Vegas Boulevard on October 5, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandalay Bay is in the background. Greg Zanis of Illinois drove all night to deliver the homemade crosses.

With wooden crosses bearing the names of those killed in the mass shooting, community members gather with candles to pay tribute to their loss on the median off Las Vegas Boulevard on October 5, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandalay Bay is in the background. Greg Zanis of Illinois drove all night to deliver the homemade crosses.

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With wooden crosses bearing the names of those killed in the mass shooting, community members gather with candles to pay tribute to their loss on the median off Las Vegas Boulevard on October 5, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandalay Bay is in the background. Greg Zanis of Illinois drove all night to deliver the homemade crosses.

By Minju Park, Columnist

OPINIONS COLUMN

On Oct. 1, a gunman killed 58 people and seriously injured hundreds at a country music festival from the vantage point of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas.

After further investigation, officials found that the gunman had equipped 12 rifles with a firearm accessory called a “bump stock.” A bump stock equips semiautomatic rifles, a weapon that reloads automatically and fires one round with one trigger pull, to fire even faster.

This allows gun owners to get around the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act of 1986 that bans civilian use of automatic weapons, or guns that require only one trigger pull to continuously reload and fire hundreds of rounds per minute. While the bump stock doesn’t allow the gun to perform exactly as an automatic weapon, it does enhance its firing speed to work similarly as a rapid-fire weapon.

In response to the mass shooting, congressional support to ban bump stocks showed some promise when top Republicans, such as John Cornyn, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, said that they would be “open” to a ban on bump stocks. This marks a milestone in the gun debate as these congressmen have previously turned down any legislation to ban guns.

While this public discussion is a necessary first step to achieve stricter gun regulation, it ultimately led to the opposite effect, with bump stock manufacturers suddenly overwhelmed by a high demand in response to anticipated legislation that would ban the product in the future.

Bump stocks, which were once relatively unknown to the general public, had suddenly exploded in popularity with gun enthusiasts, making the debate over the regulation even more precarious.

Arguments for allowing civilians to obtain semiautomatic weapons varies from the belief that criminals will still be able to get a hold of them even with a ban to the idea that ownership of military-level guns is a constitutional right.

Other supporters reference a need to protect oneself in the onslaught of a riot, protest or natural disaster. However, the Las Vegas shooting proved that a good guy with a gun can’t always stop a bad guy with one.

These arguments are weak, not supported with credible evidence and only apply to limited instances. What these supporters ultimately miss is that semiautomatic weapons are an unnecessary availability to those looking to acquire firearms to protect oneself in violent neighborhoods or to participate in recreational hunting. Rather, the purpose of a semiautomatic weapon is solely to shoot as many targets as possible.

Others have criticized Democrats who are looking to strengthen gun control by arguing that it is inappropriate to “politicize” a tragic event by making it about gun control legislation.

Our nation cannot go through any many more mass shootings to make it more “appropriate” to engage in discussion about the dangers of the availability of semiautomatic weapons and accompanying accessories for civilian use.

The lives lost in Las Vegas, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Pulse nightclub and hundreds of other shootings were preventable. Our government must take on the responsibility of protecting its citizens to stop any more tragedies from occurring in the future.

Minju is a junior in Media.

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