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The conversation in the United States has returned to an all too familiar topic, “the latest mass shooting,” a reference to the attack by Stephen Paddock on an outdoor music venue in Las Vegas, Nevada, on the evening of 1 October. Paddock murdered 59 people and injured another 241 people. 

  • To date in 2017, the US has experienced 276 mass shootings, in which 347 people have been killed and another 1,318 injured.
  • Data also shows that during the last five years, the deadliest states—California, Florida, Texas, and Illinoisalso have the largest distribution of handguns.

Regulators remain politically incapacitated by out-of-context pleas for protection of the 2nd amendment right to bear arms, heavy financial support and sway of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and a voters who remain concerned that regulations of guns will infringe on lawful use of guns.

  • In the days surrounding the shooting in Las Vegas, publicity suggested the NRA and US government understood action was needed. The NRA and US legislators turned to discussions about prohibitions on possession and sale of the equipment used by Paddock to automatize his weapons while Congress also suspending deliberation about the gun silencers.
  • Yet, the Administration also rolled back legislation requiring the US Social Security administration to report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System the names of people with documented mental disorders.

Does regulation work? Globally, the answer is yes. In the US, the answer should also be yes, at least if you look at the most recent data after former President Barack Obama announced in one of his first weekly addresses of 2016 new measures to increase background checks on gun buyers. The number of mass shootings decreased from 385 to 276 and the number of firearms permits was also slashed, though one could argue whether someone with an intent to kill would necessarily be deterred by a permitting process. Undoubtedly, regulations aside, the statistics in the US remain alarming.

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