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Denver Walmart shooting: Lenient gun control, security hurdles make such tragedies almost unavoidable

Editor's note: This article was originally published on 3 October. It is being updated in light of the Denver Walmart shooting that took place on Thursday morning.

At least two people were killed after a shootout inside a Walmart in a Denver suburb.

Lack of proper gun control and not-very-heavy security at events, like the Denver Walmart shootout or the Las Vegas shooting, means that little could have been done to prevent the carnage.

According to security experts, the challenges lie in part in the difficulty of imposing harsh policies on places and events meant for fun and relaxation, and foiling a perpetrator bent on bloodshed.

Investigators recovered at least 16 guns, including assault rifles, from Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock's room at the Mandalay Bay, and another 18 firearms along with bomb-making materials at one of his two homes.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

There have already been over 270 mass shootings in the United States this year alone, according to www.massshootingtracker.org, although the exact definition is contested, reported AFP.

Gun violence accounts for more than 33,000 deaths each year in the United States, and according to the latest Gallup poll, 55 percent of American voters would like to see stricter rules for buying guns.

But the issue is highly sensitive and US president Donald Trump's own views have changed markedly over his years in public life.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where 20 six and seven-year old children and six adults were mowed down by a disturbed 20-year-old, Trump appeared to favor stricter rules.

Back then, his predecessor Obama — who often called Sandy Hook the worst moment of his eight year presidency — called for the deadlock to be broken and for Congress to act.

At that time Trump tweeted: "President Obama spoke for me and every American in his remarks in #Newtown Connecticut."

But since then Trump — whose White House bid was endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) — has positioned himself as a defender of the constitutional "right to keep and bear arms."

The NRA donated an estimated $30 million to Trump's campaign in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Apart from the fact that the US is one of the few countries in which the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected, the US also has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada and nearly 16 times as many as Germany, according to Vox.

Moreover, gun control has a direct link with firearm homicides in the US as the article further pointed out that states with more guns have more gun deaths.

America no stranger to horrible mass shootings

The demand for stricter gun control is not a new one. People have been demanding stricter laws for a long time. Instead, stricter gun control is still absent and America has witnessed some horrible crimes because of that.

In June 2016, a gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside a crowded Florida nightclub, killing at least 50 people before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers.

The suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the gay club known as Pulse at around 2 am, when more than 300 people were inside, again making heavy security arrangements difficult.

In 2015, 14 people were killed in San Bernardino when Syed Rizwan Farook (28) and his wife Tashfeen Malik (27) opened fire at a social services centre. They fled the scene but died hours later in a shootout with the police.

Before the Sandy Hook tragedy, in 2009, US military psychiatrist Maj Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at the Fort Hood military processing centre, killing 13 persons and severely injuring 38 others before being shot and captured.

In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, a student at Virginia Tech, shot dead 32 people in two separate attacks around two hours apart, according to Daily Mail.

So what are the current gun laws in the US?

Even though the Second Amendment of the US Constitution says that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed and federal law has minimum standards for firearm regulation, individual states have their own laws when it comes to gun control.

According to The Sun, even though most states have prohibited or regulated laws related to 'open carry' — carrying arround of firearms in public — most of them have also eventually weakened the laws.

Thirty-one states in the US allow open carry and fifteen other states require a license for open carry.

California, Florida and Illinois prohibit people from open carry. New York and South Carolina prohibit open carry but long guns are exceptions. Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Jersey prohibit open carry of long guns but not handguns.

Gun laws in Las Vegas are some of the most lenient in the US. In Nevada, people are allowed to carry firearms and do not even have to register themselves as a gun owner.

People are allowed to sell weapons privately and Nevada also does not ban assault weapons. There are also no limits on buying ammunition.


Published Date: Nov 02, 2017 07:54 AM | Updated Date: Nov 02, 2017 08:37 AM

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