It has always been the guns

8 December 2023

There are three fewer people in the UNLV community. I have three fewer peers. And there is more gun violence in this country than ever.

Every mass shooting provokes the same cycle of thought and prayer. And it really is all that we can do in the moment of it. It was certainly all that I could do while waiting to hear if the brother who I’ve known my whole life was safe.

But when we are outside of that present moment, there are opportunities to act. During the six years since the deadliest mass shooting in U.S history, which happened just a few miles away from this new tragedy, there have been opportunities for change. Across two Nevadan governorships, three Nevada Legislature sessions and two presidencies, there has been time. These are policy opportunities to protect the public that, most recently in Nevada, Gov. Joe Lombardo made the willing choice to reject on three separate occasions this May. 

The causes of gun violence stem from a wide range of social and economic factors. Many gun rights pundits, to the contrary, point to a near-singular explanation in “mental health” — while simultaneously ignoring and, more often actively eroding, any fix for this issue in every other facet of their policy stances.

Such proponents may be correct in that the linchpin of their sole argument is deeply complicated and varied in origin. However, the weight that it holds in this assertion as a singular explicatory driver, and the sources to which these claimants blame, are uncritical and flawed.

Prominent Republicans — including former President Donald Trump and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — have argued in lockstep with organizations such as the National Rifle Association that violent media such as video games, not the physical tools used to perpetuate mass shootings, is one of the primary causes for the loss of tens of thousands of American lives each year.

This contention is rebutted by the failure of testing performed by professional sociological and medical institutions to establish any causal link. But even if the voices directly funded by gun lobbies are correct in explaining this public health crisis so unilaterally, as a Canadian I can attest that across the northern border we watch the same movies, we play the same video games and we listen to the same albums. Canada also faces a national mental health crisis, and is even similarly witnessing a drastic increase in violent events. Yet when comparing the casualties of these circumstances, the smoking gun that differentiates the magnitude of them is as literal as it is metaphorical. 

From the multifarious factors that are contributors to gun violence — including but far from limited to mental health — there is a much more concentrated source of gun violence: the firearms themselves. If there is one area in which preventative action can be most effectively and efficiently taken — where lives can be saved — that is it. The policy makers who can ignore the deaths, elevate the risks and profit from the markets that enable this violence have names and offices.

Although this opinion piece — and its message — is just one of many that has failed to pass in our law and policy, there is no ignoring the consequences of the decisions made for our public safety in Nevada, much the same as they have been made in legislatures across the country. There are so many avenues through which gun violence must be addressed, but there is one common denominator amongst it all: This does not happen at such scale, with such ease or with such impact without deregulated guns.

Dexter Lim is a student at UNLV in their fourth and final year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in earth and environmental science, with a minor in political science. Lim additionally works in K-12 schools in Clark County as a student ambassador for the UNLV Department of Geoscience and Resident Scientist-in-Schools for the UNLV College of Sciences.

The Nevada Independent welcomes informed, cogent rebuttals to opinion pieces such as this. Send them to [email protected].

Need help?

Please use the contact form to get support. Thank you.