Come from away: Las Vegas shooting stressed gun control issues

    American student Julia Howe said it was heartbreaking to see the stories of the people who lost loved ones and lost their lives in the Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1.(Photos: Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

    A man opened fire on a crowd gathered at a Las Vegas country music concert on Oct. 1, killing 58 people and injuring nearly 500, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.

    Julia Howe, a first-year St. Thomas University student from Dedham, Maine, said it’s sad to see another tragedy in her native country.

    “It’s so heartbreaking to see the stories of all the people who lost loved ones and lost their lives,” Howe said.

    “It also makes you angry because it’s happened before and it’s happening again. And so, while you’re sad, you’re also angry.”

    Howe described how her phone blew up with messages from her friends after the incident.

    “They just sent a whole bunch [of stories] from the news like, ‘Did you hear about this?’ … I was just messaging them and we were just talking about how much this was a terrible tragedy,” she said.

    “I talked to my mom and my dad and we just talked about how it was just so horrible.”

    Howe had no personal connection to the victims of the shooting, but said it was sad to “see people in other states that were affected.”
    As tragic as the shooting was, it was not the first time that Howe has received notifications like this.

    “You kind of just get used to the fact that your friends are messaging you and being like, ‘Oh, so-and-so’s school’s on lockdown.’ It just kind of become a norm in the country,” she said.

    In June 2016, a man killed 49 people after opening fire inside Pulse Nightclub, a gay dance bar, in Orlando, Florida. Two years earlier, in July 2012, another mass shooting occurred in Aurora, Colorado during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, resulting in the death of 12 people.

    December of that same year, another shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, killing 20 children and six adults.

    “You get used to seeing in the news that someone was shot, or there was a shooting … When something of this scale happens, it shocks everyone. But then it kind of dies down after a few days,” Howe said.

    “Even globally, we kind of become used to tragedies and we’ve kind of become numb to the effects of what happened. You’re sad for a week or two weeks, and you kind of move on.”

    Howe said she believes the U.S. government needs to have a conversation about gun control since there have been so many mass shootings.

    However, she said that doesn’t necessarily mean putting a ban on guns.

    “The government needs to think of a better way to have guns in the country and allow citizens to own guns because I don’t think we should take guns away from people, because I do believe in the right to bear arms and I do think it’s a personal security to have one,” Howe said.

    “There’s been so many mass shootings. We need to think about why that is and obviously there is a problem with the laws and the control of guns and firearms.”

    For Howe, the problem lies with how freely guns are sold and who is getting their hands on them.

    “We can’t allow them to be sold to the wrong people. We really need to do better at controlling who owns guns and who in the country has them. We need to do better background checks … because stuff like this just keeps happening.”

    Until the government is able to pass these sort of laws, Howe doesn’t believe the tragedy in Las Vegas was the last time it will happen.

    “I’m sad to say I don’t think it will be the last time if we don’t change something about our laws … The government needs to do something.”



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