The United States has just experienced three tragic mass shootings, two of which are among the worst shootings in United States history. These shootings have brought more attention to the gun problem in the U.S. and have made it clear that steps must be taken to avoid more tragedies in the future. A bipartisan bill has been announced, after years of inaction.

There has been a rise in gun-related deaths

According to the Gun Violence Archive, a widely respected source on gun violence data, the United States has had 54,021 gun-related incidents since the start of 2017.

Three hundred and eighteen of those incidents were mass shootings, and two of those mass shootings were among the top five worst mass shootings in United States history. So it should be a simple matter to admit that the U.S. has a gun problem. However, any time Gun Control has been mentioned in the past the National Rifle Association’s supporters have gone to great lengths to claim that the guns weren’t truly responsible.

They’ve used the pithy response that guns don’t kill people, people do, which incorrectly suggests that people could do just as much damage without the help of guns. Or they claim it would be disrespectful to politicize a tragedy by passing laws to stop it from happening again.

As though laws are passed solely for the effect they will have on the congresses public appearance and the effect on public safety or day to day life is actually a side issue. Most of the National Rifle Association’s greatest supporters are Republican, and we currently have a Republican majority in Congress. So even after the tragedy in Las Vegas, it seemed unlikely that we’d receive stricter gun control laws, but everything that’s happened in the last two months may have finally changed their mind.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the recent Las Vegas tragedy, on October 1, a 64-year-old man named Stephen Paddock stood on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and fired a semi-automatic rifle into the crowd below, were the Harvest Music Festival was taking place. He killed 58 people and injured 500 more, in what might be the deadliest mass shooting in U.S.


There is no denying that Paddock could not have accomplished this horrible act without a gun. He would never have been able to attack them from so far away, and no one would ever have been able to injure so many, with any other type of legal weapon. At the age of 64, its possible Paddock wouldn’t have been able to injure even one person without a gun.

Of course, a more common argument after the Las Vegas shooting was that trying to pass laws that would stop this from happening again was disrespectful. That it was politicizing a national tragedy. It seems easier to claim that the victims would be insulted by any efforts to stop this from happening again than it would be to claim he could have done just as much damage if there had been stricter gun laws in place.

The more recent mass shootings prove that this was a purely political move. Another major attack occurred on November 5, in the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas. There, a man named David Kelley, 26, took a semi-automatic rifle into a First Baptist church and killed 26 people, wounding twenty more.

The parishioners who were shot ranged in age from 72 to five and included a pregnant woman and the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter, who passed away. Ten of the wounded were in critical condition, and four more were seriously injured. This was the deadliest shooting the state of Texas had ever seen, and among the top five worst shootings in United States history. It could have been avoided if the U.S.

air force had taken gun control more seriously.

Kelley had worked in the United States air force, where he’d been charged with domestic assault in 2012, and served twelve months of confinement. In 2014 he would go on to receive a bad conduct discharge. Even our current laws on gun control should have kept him from buying the rifle, do to his criminal record.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Air Force neglected to report him to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation database of those who cannot legally by a gun. If they had, it would have kept this tragedy from happening. President Trump responded to this tragedy in a press conference, where he gave his condolences, then said that this was a mental health issue, not a gun issue.

On November 15, an attack occurred on an elementary school in Tehama County, Northern California. It started when the gunman, Kevin Neal, 44, killed a man and the gunman’s female neighbor. He then stole a pickup truck and drove around shooting at random members of the community, including a mother taking her son to school, who is in critical condition. He then rammed his pick up truck through the gates of the elementary school and began firing a semi-automatic rifle.

It was before the first bell, so students would normally have been playing in the quad, but teachers had heard the gunshots throughout town, realized something was wrong and were already rushing students into classrooms when he arrived.

Thanks to their quick thinking no children were killed and only three children were injured. However, there were four other reported deaths, ten people total were injured, and one of the injured children, only five years old, had been shot in the chest.

This shooting was undeniably horrifying and heartbreaking, every one of them was, but you may wonder why it’s been included in a list where the other death tolls were well over twenty people. It has been added for two reasons.

The first is that it emphasizes an already troubling trend in the past two month’s mass shootings. We didn’t just have two mass shootings that make the top five worst mass shootings in U.S. history, we didn’t just have the worst mass shooting in U.S.

history and the worst mass shooting in Texas State history.

We also just had three mass shootings in only one and a half months, and every shooter used a semi-automatic rifle. A weapon that was given a ten-year ban in 1994, after it was used in a series of mass shootings. During those ten years, the number of semi-automatics recovered from criminals dropped by up to 72 percent in some neighborhoods, which suggests the ban was doing exactly what it was supposed to. However, when the ban came up for renewal in 2004 it was dropped by Congress. Despite the series of recent mass shootings, there has been no mention of reinstating the ban.

The government's response sends mixed signals

The second reason it’s mentioned here is that Donald Trump’s tweet to send his condolences used the wrong town name.

Instead of sending a tweet out to Tehama County he accidentally sent the tweet out to Sutherland Springs, the place of the mass shooting on November fifth. In fact, aside from the fact that the last line was removed, his words of comfort looked exactly like the message he’d sent to Sutherland Springs a week earlier.

He has deleted the message, after several news sites picked up on it, but has offered no explanation or apology. It seems entirely possible that when he learned that four people had been killed, and children had been injured, he copy and pasted his message from the last shooting, and forgot to change the name. It was an incredibly disrespectful act that has earned many enraged responses both on twitter and throughout the news.

It has also rendered the Republican claim, that their lack of action on gun laws is a sign of respect, virtually meaningless.

With no excuse not to, and a trail of horrible tragedies behind them, is our Congress finally going to do something to regulate guns? Surprisingly, the answer might finally be yes. On November 16, Senator John Cornyn announced a bipartisan legislation that, if successful, will help the NICS do its job. The NICS, run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is a database meant to ensure that anyone with a criminal record cannot buy a gun.

The bill will require that all federal agencies create a plan for the efficient transfer of necessary information to the NICS. It also allocates funds to help states report criminal records to the NICS and creates unspecified rewards and punishments based on whether they comply with the law or fail to do the bare minimum when reporting this information.

Lastly, it creates the Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative, which ensures that states are able to report domestic abuse and felonies to the NICS. This is a small step in the right direction.

Let’s be honest, this is an incredibly small step in the right direction. Large parts of the population have been asking for a ban on semi-automatic weapons since the first mass shooting in October. However, the Republican Party has rejected every gun control bill since Sandy Hook.

After the mass shooting in 2012, of twenty children and seven adults, there was an immediate public outcry and a demand for change. This sparked more than one hundred gun control bills over the last five years, but every single one of them has been voted down.

This may be because Republican congress members truly believe that the second amendment applies to a type of weapon that did not exist when the amendment was made and is not powerful enough to ensure the defense against government overreach that the amendment was made for. Or it could have something to do with the fact that Republican Congress member earned 54 million dollars in advertising or donations from the National Rifle Association in 2016 alone.

Whatever the reason, the Republican Party has stopped all previous attempts at gun control. So, even though the bill makes small changes, and even though only eight Senators have introduced this legislation, seeing a bipartisan alliance made to create such a bill brings a small amount of hope. It may not seem like much, but it shows that some members are willing to step forward and suggest a change.