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The Las Vegas shooting should be considered an act of terrorism

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In the wake of Monday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas — the deadliest mass shooting in American history — the United States has found itself in a precarious position at the hands of gun violence. Tragedies such as this one incite vicious debates concerning gun control and the fragile state of the nation.

Nevada has among the most lenient gun laws in the nation, allowing open carry even for assault rifles, and the correlation between these two is evidently discernible.

Few concrete details are yet known of the incident at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, and the death toll continues to rise with an estimation of 58 dead and over 500 in the hospital, surpassing the Pulse Nightclub casualties.

Stephen Paddock, the alleged shooter, was in possession of two assault rifles and mercilessly continued his assault until he died by suicide, according to police. Paddock, 64, was found dead in his hotel room with approximately 10 guns and numberless ammunition shells.

Nevada gun laws allow for denizens to purchase guns without registering a license with the government and has no limitations on ammunition purchases, allowing gunmen like Paddock to stock up to alarming numbers and cause high casualties.

There is also no registration of firearms or limit on them, fostering the ideal environment for such a devastating tragedy. Nevada’s policies do not differ drastically from the average thoroughness of gun laws.

Shockingly, despite committing such an appalling and horrifying act, Paddock has been overwhelmingly disassociated from terrorism. The lack of motivation is enough for law enforcement to claim that no allegations can be made thus far, but the relationship between this solicitous approach and the race of the shooter cannot be denied.

Simply put, Paddock, a 64-year-old Caucasian grandfather, cannot adopt the title of terrorist because the media has ingrained an entirely different image in the minds of the American people: the image of a bearded, olive-toned man shouting in Arabic, the association of Jihad as motivation, the persecution of an entire faith and race because of the actions of one.

As a country, we are left in a vulnerable and anguished state. We lie at a crossroads, and the burden upon our hearts is a weighted one. The inclination to offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims of such grief is indubitable, but it is no longer enough; it’s not a solution.

The real world implications of our weak and spineless gun policies are evident. In fact, they’re being lowered into the mass graves as victim after victim has their life stolen from them.

Thoughts and prayers are just counterfeit attempts at empathy, but the situation demands action and responsibility. The impacts of such terrorism will be felt by the friends and families for years to come, but our nation is prone to amnesia when it comes to hatred.

Mass shootings have become the norm in our country, and we are all culpable for this. I beg you, as people, we must distinguish that the perpetrators of terror are terrorists, regardless of skin color.

For the sake of every victim of gun violence, for Sandy Hook and Pulse Nightclub and Columbine and Virginia Tech, for the countless names and faces gone forever, please realize the jeopardy we place ourselves in everyday when we allow guns to be proliferated in our society.

Senior staff columnist Anusheh Siddique is a political science freshman. She can be reached at [email protected].


  • I am a gun owner and a gun rights supporter. That man is a terrorist to me. His actions are indefensible. The reason I think the media doesn’t immediately focus on the idea of terrorism is that on the surface, he wasn’t acting on behalf of a well known radical religious or other ideology, (hence the “lone wolf” idea). So, on the terrorist vs not debate you raise some important points. Where I differ from your argument is in the casual way you drop ideas about gun control or how you seem to promote the idea that a law would have prevented him from doing something like this. All early reports say he qualified to purchase weapons legally. There are also other important considerations like how he was able to take those firearms and ammo into the hotel without drawing suspicion from the massive amounts of surveillance, whether or not he modified the weapons, what his motivations are, whether or not he had assistance, etc. These are things the FBI will uncover. I don’t think it serves any positive purpose to bring up the “guns are the problem” debate. We know from previous experiences that people will find a way to do damage using any improvised means.

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