Cassie Follman ’20
Earlier this month, Stephen Paddock fired into a crowd attending the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, leaving 59 people killed and hundreds of others injured. Following the mass shooting, which is recorded to be one of the worst in U.S. history, there has been both calls for and rejections of gun control.
President Kathleen McCartney shared her reaction with The Sophian.
“My own response to the Las Vegas massacre echoed what I believe most people experienced at Smith: shock, grief, and outrage that this country has not moved forward on any kind of gun control policy,” she said.
When asked why there was not a campus-wide response as there usually is after major events, President McCartney answered, “When events happen in the U.S. or around the world, I do not always send a message to campus. In the case of the Pulse nightclub tragedy, one of the victims was a former Smith employee, so I decided that made sense to send out a note to our community.”
“I had decided Monday, October 2, would be Mountain Day,” President McCartney said. “However, when I awoke to the news about the Las Vegas shootings I decided to delay our celebration until Tuesday out of respect for the Las Vegas victims and their families.”
President McCartney also shared her thoughts on the gun control debate. “Australia found the political will [after a 1996 mass shooting in Port Arthur] to sharply curb gun ownership,” she said. “And gun deaths decreased dramatically as a direct result. It makes me furious when people claim that gun control won't make us safer. … I thought something significant would happen after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but I was wrong.”
Following the tragedy in Las Vegas, there has again been calls in favor for gun control reform.
Congress has introduced a bill that would ban the use of bump stocks.
Even the National Rifle Association decided to make a statement. “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.”
Bump fire stocks are mechanisms that enable a semi-automatic weapon to become a full automatic weapon, and it appears the use of this requirement enabled the shooter to inflict such a catastrophic tragedy.
In response to the NRA’s statement the White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “We want to be part of the conversation [on that] moving forward.” Despite these inches toward change, one must consider that comments like these have been issued before when it comes to gun control policy.
“Some members of Congress seem more determined now, and I hope my optimism is well founded,” President McCartney said.
Tragedies like the one in Las Vegas continue to plague the United States, and one questions the ability of Washington to implement serious policy changes that will prevent incidents like this one from reoccurring.