Op-Ed: Right to life | Editorial – The Manila Standard


A 64-YEAR-OLD retiree armed with assault rifles rained bullets on an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, from a high-rise hotel window on Sunday, killing at least 59 people before killing himself in the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history.

More than 525 people were injured as terrified concert goers scampered for cover. Some were hit by gunfire while others were trampled in the ensuing panic as police scrambled to locate the assailant who was firing from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.

Police identified the gunman as Stephen Paddock, who lived in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. Despite claims by the Islamic State terrorist group that the shooter was a recent convert, authorities said they believed the shooter acted alone.

Police who broke into the room after Paddock killed himself found 16 rifles, some with scopes, and some that appeared to have been modified to become automatic weapons.

Police found at least 18 more guns, some explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition in Paddock’s home.

The carnage in Las Vegas, the latest in a string of shootings across the United States in recent years, sparked a renewed outcry from some lawmakers about the pervasiveness of guns, but is unlikely to prompt action in Congress, where a powerful lobby resists all forms of gun control.

Nevada, with one of the most permissive gun laws in the US, does not even require firearm owners to obtain licenses or register their guns.

We have seen variations of this tragic scenario played out over and over again.

In Orlando, Florida, a heavily armed gunman opened fire inside a gay nightclub on June 12, 2016, killing 49 people.

In the town of Blacksburg, a 23-year-old Korean student went on a rampage at Virginia Tech University in April 2007, killing 27 students and five teachers before committing suicide.

In December 2012, a disturbed 20-year-old man killed his mother in Newtown, Connecticut before blasting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killing 20 children and six adults before killing himself.

In April 1999, two teenage boys shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher at the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, before killing themselves.

Each of these instances were followed—reasonably enough—with cries for tighter gun control. But not even the deaths of innocent children or the growing death toll were able to convince the rabid pro-gun lobby and their supporters to apply restrictions to their constitutional right to bear arms.

Our hearts go out to the people of Las Vegas, particularly the families of those killed or hurt in the latest shooting. But as surely as we get the government we deserve, we also get the security environment we allow.

From the outside looking in, it seems apparent that none of this would have happened if Paddock had been stopped from bringing 16 rifles into his 32nd-floor hotel room at the Mandalay Bay hotel. That he was not speaks of the laxity with which the city and the state view lethal weapons.

Pro-gun lobbyists like to point to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution that says the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Yet they neglect to say that the First Amendment states that no law may abridge the right to free speech and a free press—yet libel, anti-hate and national security laws routinely apply limits to these rights. Is it truly so unreasonable to apply similar restrictions to their Second Amendment rights? And in an enlightened society, wouldn’t the right to life trump the right to bear arms?

We welcome the occasional reminders from Washington that we need to respect human rights. But the Las Vegas shooting and many other tragic incidents like it remind us that the Americans, too, need to do much more to protect the right to life of their own citizens.

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Today’s Op-Ed Courtesy: Right to life | Manila Standard


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