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NMSU students discuss gun control policy

On Sunday, Oct. 1, a gunman on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas opened fire into a crowd of concertgoers. Leaving at least 59 people dead and hundreds more injured, this tragic event has come to be known as the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. After firing at thousands of people in attendance at a country music festival, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock then turned the gun around and killed himself.

(Photo illustration by Hanna McGowan/Kokopelli)

Twenty-three weapons were later found in Paddock’s hotel room, including semiautomatic weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. All of the weapons were purchased legally and modified with legal technology known as “bump-stocks” that allow for rapid firing, similar to a machine gun.

“I will always be surprised no matter how many shootings there are. It’s not something we should ever get used to … this was a direct act of terrorism.”

One year prior, on June 12, 2016, the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando became the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. A gunman wielding an assault-style rifle opened fire into a crowded gay nightclub, killing at least 49 people and wounding 58 others. Omar Mateen, 29, sprayed the crowd with bullets from his AR-15 before he was killed in a shootout with SWAT officers.

“I remember it so vividly,” said NMSU student Jessica Benavidez. “The thought that a man walked into the club and killed all these innocent people because of their sexuality is appalling.”

There are more mass shootings in the United States than in any other country in the world. In less than 50 years there have been approximately 90 of them. A “mass shooting” is defined as any shooting that leads to injury or death of four or more victims.

“I will always be surprised no matter how many shootings there are,” said NMSU student Lisa Terrazas. “It’s not something we should ever get used to … this was a direct act of terrorism.”

According to an article by CNN titled, “Why the U.S. Has the Most Mass Shootings,” these killings have accounted for approximately one-third of such global attacks. Although the United States accounts for only five percent of the world’s population, it accounts for 31 percent of all public mass shootings.

“Incidents like this could easily be prevented with gun control,” said NMSU psychology major Victoria Hawkins. “That could have easily been me.”

“The shooting at Columbine High School is the one I remember most because I was so young when I heard about it,” said NMSU student LeAnn White. “It scared me so much that it’s in my mind forever.”

Like Hawkins, Lisa Terrazas also believes the best way to successfully cut down on the number of mass shootings is to put stricter gun regulations in place. “No one should be able to buy guns online or purchase more than two per year.”

Nursing student Rhianne Charley disagrees gun safety regulation would cut down on the number of mass shootings. “I don’t think incidents like this can ever be prevented. I believe in gun control, but I don’t think that will stop anyone from harming others. They will always find a way.”

Congress has made little progress regarding gun control legislation, despite the string of mass shootings that have occurred in recent years. Many are worried that the question of whether bump-stocks should be more heavily regulated will overshadow the growing debate about whether background checks should be conducted on potential gun buyers. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, President Donald Trump has yet to comment on gun control policy.

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