These Gun Violence Statistics After Las Vegas Are Proof We Can't Stop Talking About It
In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and hundreds more injured, the issue of gun control has been hotly debated. While most Americans support stricter gun laws, according to the Pew Research Center, most legislation doesn't make it through the Republican-controlled Congress. Meanwhile, in less than a month since the Vegas massacre, according to the Gun Violence Archive, more than 2,738 people have been shot, and more than 800 people have been killed by gun violence in the United States.
"The news media's interest in gun violence prevention laws does flare up around these horrible tragedies," Andrew Patrick, the media director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, tells Bustle. "But what we've seen lately is more and more people becoming involved, staying involved, and trying to make a difference and keep the conversation going."
Just a few days after the terror attack in Las Vegas, there was another mass shooting, in which four people were shot dead in a domestic violence incident in Arizona. While the incident received significantly less press than Vegas, it's a much more common occurrence. There are roughly 7.5 mass shootings a week, according to the Gun Violence Archive's data, and the Huffington Post found that 57 percent of mass shootings target either a family member or an intimate partner, and 64 percent of mass shooting victims are women and children.
While it's important to discuss restricting semi-automatic weapons and banning bump stocks — which the Las Vegas gunman reportedly used to modify 12 of the rifles found in his hotel room, turning them into weapons that could shoot at a faster rate — it's also important to address other gun laws that apply to the most common methods of gun deaths, like domestic violence. For instance, women are the victims of 53 percent of intimate partner homicides, according to the States United to Prevent Gun Violence.
Laws like California's Gun Violence Restraining Order, which allows family members, friends, and significant others to request police or the court to confiscate a gun from someone who they deem as a threat to themselves or others, have shown to lower gun violence. States like Rhode Island have also enacted laws that prohibit people with domestic violence convictions from owning a gun.
On Wednesday, Sen. Chris Murphy introduced a background check bill for gun owners, and while he admits it probably won't pass Republican-controlled Congress, he believes the conversation surrounding gun safety laws is what's most important, according to the Hartford Courant. "The anti-gun violence movement is stronger [than in 2016]” he said. Murphy also feels conversation at the federal level influences state legislature.
This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we can’t ignore the connection between domestic abuse and gun violence. https://t.co/ng1nX9Pv9z— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 19, 2017
But Patrick says hardly anything passes in the federal government these days, so it shouldn't be discouraging yet.
"That shouldn't be the indicator of where this movement is going, because it starts, like so many other social movements, with the people, moves to the state level and eventually the politicians in Washington catch up," he says.
And in order to keep that movement going, it's important to not let the conversation surrounding gun safety get lost in the wake of a tragedy.
"That falls really on the shoulders of the media," Margot Bennett, executive director of Women Against Gun Violence, tells Bustle. "Those of use in gun violence prevention are speaking about it all the time and the legislators that are committed to this issue are also speaking about it all the time. So it’s up to the media to focus on it beyond the mass shootings."
She mentions how the Arizona shooting soon after Las Vegas received significantly less coverage.
"It’s really up to the media, to treat all instances of gun violence equally," Bennett says. "The day to day grind, the mother who’s lost her child in an unintentional shooting is just as important as the major massacres."