Enough. I’ve been saying that word a lot lately. Enough, enough, enough. I said it after an angry, troubled young man stabbed his roommates to death, then hopped in his BMW and embarked on a shooting spree, killing three before ending his life with a self-inflicted bullet. I said it after a Las Vegas resident shot through his front door, hitting a man in the chest, who had mistaken the house for a neighbor’s during a late-night party. And I said it after Jerad and Amanda Miller executed two Metro police officers who were eating lunch on Sunday, before shooting a citizen who tried to intervene and barricading themselves inside a Las Vegas Walmart, where they both died.
The thread linking all these incidents? Guns, and our country’s persistent refusal to address one crucial fact: They are killing us.
According to a report by the United Nations, there were 14,827 homicides in the U.S. in 2012, 60 percent of which were committed with firearms. That’s more gun-related murder than in any other developed nation. And yet, as the tragedies mount and the bodies pile up, we do almost nothing. We shake our heads, change our Facebook profile photos to an icon of support for Metro, read the headlines about another school shooting and wonder aloud, “How could this happen? How could this happen again?”
That’s actually an easy question to answer. While countries like Australia and the United Kingdom have reacted to their own mass shootings with strict new gun regulations, not a single federal gun law was passed in the year after the massacre of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. According to a New York Times study published last December, 109 new state gun laws were enacted across the country during that time. And here’s the surprising thing: Roughly 64 percent of that legislation loosened restrictions on firearms.
In Nevada, where Las Vegas had 164 gun fatalities from 2009-’10, Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill last June that would have required universal background checks for firearm purchases, including those made through private parties or at gun shows.
In explaining his veto, Sandoval said the bill put “unreasonable burdens and harsh penalties upon law-abiding Nevadans, while doing little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining guns.”
It’s too early to say how Jerad, a convicted felon, and Amanda Miller obtained the weapons they used in their East Las Vegas rampage last weekend. But it’s not too late make our gun laws tougher, to do everything we can to prevent another tragedy, to say, “Enough, enough, enough,” and mean it.