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More Americans Have Died In Gun Incidents In 50 Years Than In All US Wars

Stewart Perrie

| Last updated 

More Americans Have Died In Gun Incidents In 50 Years Than In All US Wars

In the last 50 years, more Americans have died from gunshots than in all of the wars in US history combined.

In excess of 1.5 million US citizens have died as a result of firearms-related incidents since 1968, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is compared to approximately 1.2 million service members who have lost their lives across every war in US history, according to estimates from the Department of Veterans Affairs and iCasualties.org, a website that maintains an ongoing database of casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Las Vegas police
Las Vegas police

Credit: PA Images

Sunday's massacre in Las Vegas - which left 59 dead, including the gunman, Stephen Paddock, and 530 others injured - is the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. It became the 273rd mass shooting in this year according to the Gun Violence Archive (which defines a mass shooting as four or more people injured or killed), meaning there has been at least one every day in 2017.

"What we've seen in Las Vegas is an uniquely American scene," former FBI agent Ali Soufan said on MSNBC. "The aftermath of such traumatic events have become an all-too-familiar scene in our society and in our politics, unfortunately."

Authorities are still trying to ascertain Paddock's motives, however, early investigations suggest that he wasn't related to any major international terrorist organisations. As those enquiries continue to be carried out, citizens and politicians are crying out for gun reform.

This call for action has emerged virtually after every major mass shooting in America, including Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, San Bernadino, Fort Hood and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

In the hours after the Las Vegas attack, social media was flooded with people on either side of the debate on gun reform. Proponents of tighter laws hope this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back, and convinces politicians to act. However, on the other side, people say this only strengthens their belief in the second amendment and Americans should be getting more guns in order to protect themselves.

LADbible has spoken to a few people on both ends of the spectrum to see what they think should happen next.

Guns in America
Guns in America

Credit: PA

Mike Shelly* and his family own two shotguns and a small calibre rifle, which are mainly used for sport, however they are also kept for self-defence. He tells us: "I absolutely believe that gun laws should be tightened. No matter what anyone tells you, a gun is first and foremost a weapon of death. They DO kill people. It requires more training and time and paperwork to get on the road and drive around than it does to own a weapon.

"If I wanted to, I could grab a couple of documents and some cash, go into a pawn shop near me, and waltz right out with a military weapon. I think that's insane. People should get a certificate of good mental health (with a new check-up every few years) and go through at least a week of firearm safety training before being able to buy whatever guns and ammo they want."

Mike doesn't have much expectation that legislation will be changed any time in the near future, because he believes Republicans are too closely involved with the National Rifle Association.

"They'll keep pouring money into politicians who are either pro-gun or silent on the issue, and will fund attacks against politicians who propose common-sense gun control," he adds.

Guns in America
Guns in America

Credit: PA

Mike's belief is supported by another gun-owning American named Jim Delaney*, who has two bolt action rifles, one lever action rifle and a shotgun. Jim tells LADbible: "I believe there should be background checks for ALL firearms. A person that is under the care of mental health professionals, and present a danger to themselves or others should not be allowed to own firearms.

"There should also be limits on how many firearms can be legally owned. Assault rifles should be banned all together. No one outside of the military, or police should ever have them."

He believes that events like Las Vegas give gun owners across the country a bad name, when there are plenty of law-abiding citizens. But that's what people on the other side of this debate sometimes focus on.

Amanda Pitts also owns three weapons (a 9mm pistol, a 12 gauge pump-action shotgun and a .308 hunting rifle) and tells us: "The actions of a few should not determine the outcome that will affect many. In my opinion gun control is not the response to these tragedies! Guns do not kill people; the evil in the hearts and minds of the individuals is what kills.

Guns in America
Guns in America

Credit: PA

"I don't know the answer to solve the senseless acts of these few individuals but I assure you banning guns in the United States is not the answer. I understand that many have lost lives due to individuals who choose to use the weapons for evil and my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those victims.

"I think those calling for gun control don't own or have a purpose for a weapon. Many have expressed ill feelings toward the law-abiding citizens who do support the second amendment and the lawful ownership of weapons."

Amanda agrees that there might have to be some minor tightening of regulations, most notably banning people with mental illnesses or criminal convictions from owning weapons. But she adds: "I believe that when there's a will or a want to hurt the innocent, there's a way."

The Missourian adds that in France, Sweden, the UK and Germany, people have used vans or other means to cause mass casualties.

However, another opponent of gun control questions whether it even works. J Barrett* tells LADbible: "Gun control has shown itself to be wildly unsuccessful. From Chicago to DC, wherever restrictions are tightest, there you will find the highest violent crime rates.

"I would love to see 'constitutional carry' [the legal carrying of a handgun without a licence] implemented nationwide. I believe the more concealed carriers we have walking the streets, the safer people are."

Guns in America
Guns in America

Credit: PA

The weapons that Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock used had been legally modified to make them automatic, and a total of 22 firearms were found in the hotel room from which he carried out the attack. When searches of other properties connected to Paddock were carried out, even more guns were unearthed.

According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, around four in 10 Americans either own a gun themselves or live in a household with guns. Protection is number one on the list of reasons for owning a gun - and for most gun owners, owning a firearm is linked to their sense of personal freedom.

Washington DC this week introduced a bill to ban bump-stock devices, like the ones Paddock is suspected to have used, which allow shooters to fire bullets rapidly.

A day after the attack, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters: "There will certainly be a time for that policy discussion to take place, but that's not the place that we're in at this moment."

President Trump also declined to comment on gun violence, stating: "We're not going to talk about that today."

But when will it be time to talk?

*Names have been changed to protect people's identities.

Featured Image Credit: PA Images

Topics: Las Vegas, US

Stewart Perrie
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