"Gun Control Now" Consumes Twitter After The Las Vegas Shooting, Stirring The Recurring Debate Once Again
Following any act of mass violence in the U.S. Twitter is one of the more volatile places to try and have a discussion. Tensions are high, people are upset and looking for an outlet, and debates inevitably get heated. And after Sunday night's tragic shooting in Las Vegas, now confirmed as the mostly deadly shooting in U.S. history (early reports have deaths at 50, while the previous most deadly shooting was at Orlando's Pulse Nightclub with 49 victims), "Gun Control Now" has taken over Twitter. And while the hashtag clearly started to support the push for stronger gun control measures following the tragedy (likely in anticipatory response to those who'd argue that now is not the time to debate the issue), both sides of the recurring argument over whether or not gun control works have shown up to plead their cases.
The incident occurred on the final night of Vegas' Route 91 Harvest Festival, a country music festival on the famous Las Vegas Strip. However, during singer Jason Aldean's performance, a gunman began shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, according to CNN. According to the same report, police believe there was only one shooter and have not confirmed what type of gun the shooter was believed to have used. At this time, the shooter's motives are also unknown.
What is known is that, according to the BBC, Nevada has some of the most lax gun control laws in the U.S. According to their report, the state does not require gun-owners to register as owning a gun, citizens are allowed to sell guns privately, and there are no bans on assault weapons. Naturally, citizens on Twitter are asking that stronger gun control be truly considered in light of Sunday's display.
And while many using the hashtag are looking to their fellow citizens to join them in asking for stronger gun control in general, pointing to the many mass shootings in recent U.S. history, others are speaking directly to politicians, who they see as those who can actually make that change — specifically, those who send "thoughts and prayers" without supporting stronger gun control laws.
Following the 2015 shooting in San Bernadino, the New York Daily News famously ran the headline "God Isn't Fixing This," riling up the longstanding criticism of the immediate prayerful response from politicians to any tragedy. The common criticism gained great momentum following the Pulse Shooting in Orlando, after which many people criticized politicians, en masse, for tweeting and posting "thoughts and prayers" to social media without making any decisions from their seats of power that might contribute to fewer guns in the hands of would-be shooters. And when you consider statistics like the fact that according to CNN, Americans own nearly half of the civilian owned guns in the world (48 percent, to be precise) and that the number of deaths by firearm are 25.5 times higher in the U.S. than in other countries with similar per capita income, it's easy to see why the debate continues to rage on, especially in times of crisis.
The hashtag and sentiment seem to be in conversation, especially, with those who would claim that the time following a tragedy is no time to play politics. The "now is not the time" response is extremely prevalent in the U.S. recent history. The phrasing is usually associated with more conservative politicians, like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who back in 2015, criticized President Obama for his remarks following the Charleston shooting, in which he promised stronger gun control. "I think it was completely shameful. Within 24 hours we've got the president trying to score cheap political points," Jindal told Fox News. However, even the Obama administration used a variation on the phrase following the Newtown shooting back in 2012. Clearly, the public has caught on and aims to cut those politicians who would claim that now is not an appropriate time to talk about gun control off at the pass.
And while many Twitter users tweeting the hashtag are making claims that gun control wouldn't have stopped the Las Vegas shooter or accusing the gun control advocates of missing the point, for the most part, those using it seem to be crying out, en masse, that enough is enough.
Here are some ways you can help the victims in Las Vegas.