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As the tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history leaving 59 killed and 500 injured, remains on the minds and hearts of many Americans, the debate of proposing stricter gun laws erupts.

New York Times: Las Vegas Shooting

According to the NY Daily News, President Donald Trump responded to the tragedy vaguely stating, “we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by,” without further clarity.

So what exactly is a “mass shooting”? According to the Gun Violence Archive, a “mass shooting” is any situation involving an armed person who

1. shoots or kills four or more people

2. in the same overall time and place

The Congressional Research Service also defines it as a gunman who attacks in a public place.

While deaths by mass shootings have decreased slightly from 2016 to 2017, the Gun Violence Archives reports 10 mass shootings that have occurred from Jan. 1, 2017-Nov. 5 and the year is not over yet.

Death by Mass Shooting Per State in 2017
Number of Registered Weapons per State

Although California, Texas and Florida ranked high in both number of mass shooting deaths and number of registered weapons, the states also possess a higher population given the area. Since 2014, a report by U.S. Consensus Bureau described Florida surpassing New York at “becoming the country’s third most populous state”. California is deemed the most populous with 38.8 million residents, right before Texas with 27.0 million. Big cities, with a larger population and greater dangers, propose much more risks of gun violence, not to mention more availability of targets for shooters in public places that are heavily populated.

If most people do not own guns, why exactly is gun control such an important and relevant issue in politics? While guns are a constant topic in the news, gun control actually impacts politics in more ways than one. In fact, 85% of U.S. voters said gun control is a significant factor in their voting according to Gallup News. On the other hand, bombarded with political candidates and tragic news stories on a day-to-day basis, how do people actually feel about gun laws?

Statistics help us to see how the public views gun control, but legislative action in response to mass shootings reveals how Congress quickly responds to danger with rigorous laws.  The following story map takes you through a timeline of tragic mass shootings followed by the responsive aid of the U.S. government.

 

Living in a place with more gun owners than any other country, it appears our government is effective in implementing strict gun laws. Despite the purpose of these laws, according to NBC News, “82% of weapons involved in mass shootings over the last three decades have been bought legally.” Guns, both intimidating and empowering, have the tremendous power to save and kill. With most criminals acquiring guns illegally, should gun laws be more lenient to protect U.S. citizens or stricter to decrease criminal possession of weapons?

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