We can expect the gun control debate to grow louder in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting on October 1, 2017. Shooter Stephen Paddock killed at least 58 people and injured nearly 500 others in the recent massacre. Proponents of stricter gun control will likely point to this shooting to plead for stricter regulation of our Second Amendment right to bear arms. Their rationale is that someone intent on mass killing would be unable to kill and maim as many people if there is less access to high powered automatic weapons. Opponents of stricter gun regulations will probably argue that the Las Vegas attack shows how difficult the gun control discussion really is. Rather, a full ban on automatic weapons might have been the only thing that could have prevented modern America’s deadliest mass shooting.
Paddock’s father was a bank robber and escaped fugitive on the FBI’s most wanted list; however, Paddock himself had no criminal record, was a wealthy real estate investor and a high rolling gambler. It appears that no amount of typical background checks would disqualify someone like Paddock from purchasing guns.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess and use firearms for any traditionally lawful purpose without any requirement for the individual to serve in any militia. As the nation mourns victims of the shooting, will the public demand a closer look at how the U.S. balances the Second Amendment against the public’s desire to be protected from mass shootings? Only time will tell.