After an attack in Las Vegas left 59 dead and 520 injured on Monday, Congressional leadership responded with a resounding chorus of “thoughts and prayers” and pretty much nothing else. Their passivity speaks volumes.
There have been more mass shootings in the United States this year than there have been days in the calendar. Sunday’s Las Vegas attack was the largest mass shooting in modern (post 19th century) U.S. history.
Perhaps it’s time for them to try something a little different: passing some gun control legislation.
Over the past decade, members of Congress and the Nevada state legislature have worked diligently to make sure that even more Americans like Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old behind the Las Vegas attack, have access to lethal weapons.
It is, of course, impossible to conclusively determine whether passing all the gun control legislation that’s been proposed over the past 10 years would have affected Paddock directly or been enough to sufficiently deter him.
But lax federal and state laws certainly made it a whole hell of a lot easier for Paddock to build a terrifying and ultimately highly effective reserve of 42 total guns that he owned.
Obtaining a gun in Nevada, which has some of the laxest gun laws in the nation, is as easy as pie — or even easier, depending on the recipe you used.
Here’s a look at some of the laws passed that make it a breeze for men like Paddock to build mass collections of lethal weapons without so much as a slap on the wrist:
1. Congress failed to ban bump stocks, even though fully automatic weapons are banned
Along with the 23 weapons which police found in Paddock’s hotel room, officials found at least 12 bump stocks, attachments designed to make semi-automatic weapons function like automatic ones. Automatic weapons, like machine guns, have been illegal in the U.S. since 1986. But semiautomatic weapons can be altered to function like them. Bump stocks attachments change how the trigger is pulled and allow shooters to shoot multiple rounds more efficiently.
“This replacement shoulder stock turns a semi-automatic rifle into a weapon that can fire at a rate of 400 to 800 rounds per minute,” California Senator Dianne Feinstein told The Associated Press.
After the Newtown massacre in 2012, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein included a ban bump stocks as part of a broader bill to ban assault weapons. The legislation didn’t make it past the Senate.
2. After the Newtown tragedy, Nevada loosened conceal carry rules
In May 2013, Nevada passed a law that made it easier for people to acquire a concealed carry permit for their handguns. Gun owners need only meet minimal requirements, like not being a felon, to be granted one. Open carry in the state remains legal even without a permit. The bill was introduced two months before Newtown, and passed two months after that mass shooting.
Stephen Paddock reportedly passed all of the (limited) background checks he was required to take.
3. After the Tucson shooting that killed 6 people and left Congresswoman Gabby Giffords severely injured, Congress failed to pass a ban on high capacity magazines
In 2011, Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg tried to pass a law that would have banned the manufacture and sales of high capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This was after Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head along with 18 others in the crowd with a 33-round magazine attached to a 9 mm glock. Lautenberg’s bill didn’t even come close to passing.
The modified rifle Paddock used was capable of holding between 60 and 100 rounds, expediting the firing process.
4. Nevada residents don’t need to bother registering their guns.
Residents of the city of Las Vegas are required to license their pets. They do not need to worry about registering their guns, however, thanks to a law that Gov. Brian Sandoval signed in 2015. There’s no limit on the number of guns men like Paddock are allowed to posses in the state.
5. Nevada residents are also free to transfer and possess 50-caliber rifles or other high-capacity magazines.
Again, at least one rifle Paddock used could hold between 60 and 100 rounds.
6. A House Committee rejected a “no fly, no buy” amendment that would limit firearm sales to terrorist suspects on the no-fly list.
There are laws, like this one and the one discussed below, that didn’t impact Paddock directly, but still make it easier for high-risk people to get access to lethal weapons.
The policy, Democrats argued, would have made a real difference in Orlando, where 49 people were massacred at Pulse Nightclub. The measure was defeated 16-31 in the House Appropriations Committee.
7. When Trump signed a bill revoking Obama-era gun checks for people with mental illness
The rule, crafted in response to Sandy Hook, had yet to take full effect when Obama left office, but he previously predicted it would have added 75,000 names to the national background check database. But Trump reversed the regulation, which would’ve added an extra hurdle for the mentally ill supported by Social Security and those unfit to manage their finances.
Trump called Paddock a “sick” and “demented man” on Monday. Still, per Trump’s own order, that wouldn’t disqualify him from purchasing a reserve of weapons capable of killing at least 59 people in just minutes.