This week at least 59 people were killed and hundreds were injured at a music festival in what has become America’s biggest mass shooting. The Sunday night massacre in Las Vegas is the latest shooting to hit the US and shock people around world. As yet it is unclear why a man in his sixties with more than 20 guns, including semi-automatic weapons, indiscriminately shot at the 22,000-strong festival crowd and the massacre was only stopped when police stormed the hotel room he was shooting from and found he had turned the gun on himself.
This kind of mass killing with guns is all too familiar in the US. Over the years there have been hundreds of massacres, but none seem to spur US politicians on to changing the laws on gun ownership.
In America, there is thought to be almost as many guns as there are people and the number of people killed by guns is over 10,000 every year. Statistics show that 60 to 70 per cent of all killings in the US are by a firearm. In the UK, in the year ending March 2016, the Office for National Statistics reported that 5 per cent (26 deaths) of homicides in the UK were by firearm.
Here in the UK the minimum sentence for illegal firearm possession is five years in prison, a tough sentence which I think goes a long way to preventing guns getting into the wrong hands.
It is staggering that a man can walk into a hotel in one of the world’s busiest tourist cities with multiple semi-automatic weapons and yet even this is not illegal in Nevada.
I don’t claim our gun laws are perfect but guns are rightly very hard to come by in the UK and that is a situation that undoubtedly saves lives.
This latest shooting should act as a wake-up call to the US Government to act now and begin a re-evaluation of its gun legislation to try and prevent further tragedies in future. Somehow though I doubt this will happen.