Is America finally headed towards real gun reform?
Tonight, the iconic Las Vegas strip will go dark to mark the first anniversary of the mass shooting that killed 58 people.
Fans were gathered on the Strip for the Route 91 Harvest Festival, listening to Jason Aldean close out the night's performances. Meanwhile, Stephen Paddock, equipped with semi-automatic firearms, was in a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. At 10:05 p.m., Paddock opened fire on the crowd. For the following ten minutes, pandemonium ruled as victims fell and survivors scrambled to avoid the spray of bullets. More than 400 people were injured by Paddock's bullets, and hundreds more were hurt trying to flee the scene.
In the wake of the shooting, many legislators pledged to make strides to reform gun laws. Now, a year later, little has changed. An Associated Press review of all the firearms-related legislation that passed this year shows mixed results. In some states, gun control bills did pass, but the "year was not the national game-changer that gun-control advocates had hoped it could be," AP reports.
Many Americans are using the anniversary of the Vegas massacre to remind the public of the need for meaningful gun reform. Zach Elmore, brother of Alicia Elmore, who was a victim of the Vegas shooting, marks the anniversary by asking people to vote in November. In a letter published in the Seattle Times, Elmore says that voters can help to end gun violence "in just a few weeks by electing gun-sense candidates up and down the ballot. It's critical that we elect candidates who will stand up and take action rather than just accepting shootings on our streets, at concerts, at playgrounds and in our homes."
Elmore is not alone in his sentiment. Students and activists gathered in D.C. Sunday to remember the 58 victims of the massacre and demand national gun reform. Robert Disney, the organizing director of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, attended the protest and said, "I'm here because I'm sick of the way the NRA has a chokehold on Congress, I think for the first time in my lifetime, we have a chance to break the chokehold, and I am doing everything I can to help that to happen."
Law enforcement officials said that at least a dozen of the 23 firearms found in Las Vegas were semi-automatic rifles legally modified to fire like automatic weapons, using an alteration known as a bump fire stock. Nevada law allows the purchase of machine guns and silencers in compliance with federal law and regulations, so Paddock's possession of the guns used in the attack was lawful, but perhaps not for much longer.
This morning President Donald Trump said in a speech addressing the anniversary that rapid-fire devices like those used in the Las Vegas massacre will soon be "ruled out." He stated, "We are knocking out bump stocks. I've told the NRA. Bump stocks are gone."
NBC News reports the Justice Department's confirmation that a proposal to ban bump stocks was sent late last week to the Office of Management and Budget for review. After a review of up to 90 days, the proposal will be published in the Federal Register and made available for public comment. The proposal would ban the manufacture, importation, and possession of bump stocks.
While reforms of this kind have been proposed and shot down multiple times since the Las Vegas massacre, this is the first that's been backed by President Trump.