Let’s Talk About Guns, Not Motivations

A shooter killed 50 and wounded 200 at a music festival in Las Vegas last night. We know the shooter’s name (Stephan Paddock); his race (white); where he lived (Mesquite, NV); and his age (64). We don’t yet know anything about his motivations. But frankly, sitting here trying to fathom what happened, the shooter’s motivations don’t feel relevant.

Based on the shooter’s name, this incident does not appear to be an act of Islamic terrorism—but it could have been. The Orlando shooter claimed to be inspired by Islamic propaganda he accessed online.

The shooter could be left-winger angry about police brutality or a right-winger angry about big government, though the setting is an odd one to choose in either case. Alternatively, the shooter could be a loner who did what he did some reason known only to him, or no reason at all.

That I could sit here and throw out that many different possible reasons for carrying out a mass shooting points to the gravity of the issue.

We will never eliminate all motivations for conducting mass shootings—and in this country anyone can pick up a gun and carry out a mass shooting. On some level, then, the motivations become unimportant. What’s important is how comparatively easy it is for someone, regardless of their motivations, to carry out a shooting like this. That is what is scary.

We cannot stop mass shootings like this—and they seem to be happening with escalating frequency—without gun control. Gun control isn’t foolproof—in 2011, a right-wing extremist killed 55 teens at a summer camp in Norway. But gun control can at least make carrying out mass shootings of this magnitude more difficult.

At this point people begin appealing to the Second Amendment. But you know what? The Founding Fathers can’t have had any idea what guns would become. During the American Revolution, you still had to reload between every shot, and guns themselves weren’t always that reliable. The sorts of weapons we have today exist on a completely different magnitude.

If I live in fear—and for the most part, I do not—my fear is not of any religion or ideology. No, my fear stems from the ease with which anyone can obtain a gun and pick people off at random.

If I am dead, the race, ethnicity, of ideological motivations of my killer will be unimportant.

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