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Controversial Control

Hannah Loder, Reporter

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   The concert was alive with dancing, singing and people having a good time. One minute the music stopped and confusion filled the crowd. The loud pops of sound were just fireworks; the music resumed. Next came hundreds of those pops and terror consumed the concert-goers. There was an active shooter on the loose; they were not fireworks at all. The entire Las Vegas strip went on lockdown with no one really knowing what was going on. Stephen Paddock was later discovered dead in his hotel room at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. In the aftermath of the shooting, America is mourning those lost and trying to decipher why an event like this would occur. With this heartache, the controversial topic of gun control has been brought to light again.

  Mass shootings occur more than people know. A mass shooting is defined as an event where a firearm is used to injure multiple people. According to Mass Shooting Tracker, there are mass shootings, where at least four people are injured, that occur in America almost every day. The major shootings, like the one at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the more recent one in Las Vegas, are the shootings that attract the most public attention. They start up the conversation about gun violence in America and whether or not stricter gun laws will lessen these terrible events.  

  Jessica Kruse, Springfield attorney and mother of three, was in Las Vegas at the time of the shooting. Kruse and her husband were planning to go to the concert but instead decided to attend a show because Kruse forgot her cowboy boots. The show took place in an outdoor tent on the opposite side of the strip from the concert. The show continued as planned, but the attendees were unable to leave because the strip was on lockdown.

  “We really didn’t know exactly what was going on,” Kruse said. “We could hear helicopters overhead and we knew that everything was on lockdown. We kept updating our phones and getting more information. That part was actually pretty terrifying because it sounded like there was some massive attack on the city at all these casinos. We were just waiting; it was a matter of time, we thought, before it would end up at our side of the strip. We felt pretty helpless sitting in this tent that only had folding chairs and there wasn’t a lot of place to take cover.”

  As an attorney, Kruse has learned about the laws in the country and whether or not they truly detract from the crimes that people commit. With this knowledge, she shared that the only true way to stop future shootings may be in hands of the people witnessing the warning signs.

  “I really don’t have an opinion one way or the other on whether it is effective for there to be additional statutes, but I do think that there certainly needs to be more awareness,” Kruse said. “I do think it is important for people to raise concerns and to be watchful. I think that’s really the only way we can prevent things like this.”  

  Paddock brought over 20 firearms into his hotel room in ten suitcases. It has been determined that Paddock was able to kill 59 people and injure over 500 others because he utilized a legal modifier for his semiautomatic rifle called a bump stock. Bump stocks are made of plastic or metal and can be attached to a semiautomatic rifle to make it fire like an automatic weapon. In the wake of the shooting, the use of bump stocks have been the real issue, above the controversy of how the Second Amendment right should be regulated.

  The National Rifle Association (NRA) issued an official statement calling for a stop to those who urge more gun control. The NRA instead endorses the belief that bump stocks should be more heavily regulated. The statement detailed the NRA’s mission to protect the right to bear arms for citizens of the United States.

  “Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks,” the statement read. “In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved. Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law. The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

  Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s also issued an official statement on the shooting and the use of bump stocks. They are in agreement with the NRA’s stance.

  “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and loved ones,” the statement read. “Bass Pro Shops, though it has the legal right to do so, has never sold ‘bump stock’ devices. On Tuesday, October 3, Cabela’s initiated the process of discontinuing the sale of these devices at all retail locations and online. We agree with the National Rifle Association and others that the sale of such devices should be subject to additional regulations.”

 After the mass shootings that have occurred in public places with many people in the crowd, citizens may be fearful of going to these largely-attended events. Kruse is not going to let the shooting stop her from living her life. She is hopeful that the awareness brought from this tragedy will allow people to attend events and be cautious in order to prevent another attack.

  “Again, I think it certainly makes you more aware and more watchful about what is going on around you, which I think is good,” Kruse said. “It’s not necessarily going to prevent me from going to different events. I think that’s how I approach it and how I will approach it. I will continue to enjoy concerts and outdoor events and just be more aware of my surroundings.”

 

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Controversial Control