When is the right time to discuss gun control, if not now?

Emily Kowalik ’18
Opinions Editor

We have all heard the Republican party’s talking point too many times: It is too soon after the tragedy to discuss gun control issues. The people need this time to grieve.

We hear this same refrain after every mass shooting, and it is wearing thin. This delay tactic should not grind down our resolve: the time to discuss gun control is now!

Twenty-seven were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 and nothing has changed. Then came San Bernadino in 2015. Then another forty-nine were killed in Orlando in 2016 and gun laws remained the same.

Another 60 people just died in Las Vegas. When is the right time for a conversation about gun control to take place?

Trump said, “The answers do not come easily,” but if we do not even begin the dialogue, the answers may never come. We have seen 313,000 gun deaths in the past 10 years in the United States. And, we have witnessed more than 1,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook.

The time for patience is over; there is an urgent need for discussion of this issue.

And I’m not just talking the bump-stock issue. Controlling a gun accessory does not deal with the larger issue of the legality of semi-automatic rifles themselves.

Police said they recovered a total of 42 weapons belonging to Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, some of which were semi-automatic weapons modified into fully automatic weapons.

As we search for meaning in the latest gun massacre, does it aid the families of the victims to be silent on the issue of gun control in the face of this tragedy?

The Republicans prefer to cast the tragedy as the act of mental illness, not the result of unrestricted access to guns. They argue that restricting gun access makes it difficult for people to have the means to defend themselves in a situation like this. Surely the argument that a handgun in the crowd beneath the Mandalay Bay would somehow provide a measure of defense against a semi-automatic fire from the 32nd floor is specious.

Others argue restrictions in the purchase of firearms and ammunition would not make a difference – that those bent on mass destruction would simply find another way.  Isn’t that sort of like arguing against bomb sniffing dogs and metal detectors as a waste of resources?

After a massacre in Port Arthur in 1996, Australia imposed a mandatory buy-back on semi-automatic rifles and melted down over 600,000 weapons. They haven’t had a high-casualty mass shooting since.

We need gun control on a federal level, not meaningless platitudes such as, “Our unity shall not be shattered by evil.”  And we need to start the discussion now.