Debates about gun laws have restarted across the nation following the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
On October 1, a gunman positioned in a hotel room above the Las Vegas Strip fired at thousands of people attending a country music festival. During the ensuing chaos at least 500 people were wounded and over 50 were killed making this the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Amidst all the prayers for the families affected by the tragedy and the fundraisers for the victims, gun control was the top trending topic on Twitter.
Caleb Keeter, guitarist for the Josh Abbott Band, who played at the Las Vegas venue just hours before the shooting, was so deeply impacted by his experiences at the festival he used social media to share his message.
“I have been a proponent of the second amendment my entire life until the events of last night,” Keeter wrote. “I cannot express how wrong I was.”
Keeter wrote that he, along with several members of the crew, have concealed handgun licenses and had their weapons on the tour bus. He said that during the shooting the guns in the bus were useless and bringing them out could have confused the police. He wrote that his greatest regret is that it took him being present for a tragedy to change his stance on gun control.
Some students at the University of Northern Colorado were not so moved by the attack in Las Vegas.
“I wasn’t shocked,” said Oluwatobi Ogunmodede, a junior criminal justice major at UNC. “I was more like, ‘here we go again’. The assailant is always seen as an innocent, almost as innocent as the victim. What he did is domestic terrorism. We need to change the mindset. We need to change the conversation, but we can’t.”
Ogunmodede also explained that media coverage of mass shootings plays a role in the gun control debate. She said white men are often reported as mentally unstable instead of as domestic terrorists which downplays the scope of the problem.
The phrase “mass shooting” has no official definition, but the US Congressional Research Service defines a public mass shooting as a scenario, “in which four or more people selected indiscriminately, not including the perpetrator, are killed.” Since there is no official definition it is impossible to determine how many gun-related incidents qualify as a mass shooting.
While the definition is up for debate students also disagree on what might be causing the increased gun violence in the United States.
Senior Nick Trujillo, a criminal justice major at UNC, thinks that the main problem causing gun violence is not the weapons.
“Ultimately it’s not the gun it’s the people,” Trujillo said. “It’s a psychological problem. Gun laws are in place, and I’m glad that they are, so people who shouldn’t be owning them won’t be able to. For the Vegas shooting it wasn’t the weapon that caused all this harm. it was the man who wanted to inflict all that harm.”
Other students said they were confused about why gun violence was an issue at all. Compared to other developed nations the US has the most firearms per person at 88.8 per 100 people, according to a 2007 survey, and the most homicides at 3.54 per 100,000 people.
Samara Lishchynsky, a Sports and Exercise Science major from Saskatchewan, Canada brought an outside perspective on US gun policies.
“I don’t get it. I never will,” Lishchynsky said. “Back in Canada we don’t do this.”