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Modern weapons: Freedom, firearms, and fear

social issues


University of Virginia


Modern weapons: Freedom, firearms, and fear

A take on the destructive powers taking the United States by storm

Ashley Morris


Las Vegas Boulevard - Sunday, October 1st.

Bullets rained down on a crowd of over 20,000 concertgoers, killing 58, and injuring hundreds more. The crowd scatters, and police are tipped off that the shots came from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Within approximately one hour after the final shot is fired, police breach the killer's room - and find him deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

1. Concertgoers duck and flee during the shooting in Las Vegas - NBC News

The 'Las Vegas strip shooting' is now the deadliest mass shooting by a single person in modern US history. In the days since the massacre, it has sparked heated debates over gun laws, the mental health system, and rising violence within the states. How did he accumulate such a large number of firearms and ammunition? If no motive has yet been uncovered, did something with his mind simply 'snap'? What can the federal and state governments do to curb the rising trend in violent episodes across the nation?

These questions, along with many others, are proving more difficult to answer each time a national tragedy becomes plastered across news headlines. While the nation mourns a fallen mother, father, sister, brother, friend - moral and societal divisions only seem to grow deeper. This article is my own general take on what I believe to be causing deep-seeded divisions within our nation, with the particular focus on gun and firearm violence.

Freedom and Firearms

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
- US Bill of Rights, Second Amendment

Since 1791, the right of every American to 'keep and bear arms' has stood firm, with states having their own discretion when it comes to permits, licenses, and open-carry laws. The original goal of establishing that right was to allow for citizens to be able to join together to protect themselves and their family, and defend their own property, should an oppressive, uncontrollable government come to fruition.

But that right, according to some, shouldn't exist at all. Others argue that a balance is needed. where firearms only rest in the hands of the well-trained and well-minded. But how do you efficiently regulate those requirements?

While idealistic, the notion of eradicating firearms completely from US soil is, quite frankly, impossible. Even if laws were put in place, guns and ammunition would find a way into the hands of those that actively seek them - either by foreign supply, domestic black market, or homemade methods.

Regulation (purchasing, licensing, background checks) only works to a point, until the system become undermined. At least in this century, the most effective method of reducing gun-related violences just may lie simply in how people are educated about the use, prevalence, and safety regarding firearms.

2. 'Las Vegas shooting' - Dave Granlund

Firearms and Fear

“In every country where independence has taken the place of liberty, the first desire of a manly heart is to possess a weapon which at once renders him capable of defence or attack, and, by rendering its owner fearsome, makes him feared.”
- Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

What does a firearm represent to you?

A means of self-protection? Of sport and survival? Or of death and tragedy?

There's no doubt that an individual with a weapon becomes fearsome, particularly if you don't know their intentions. It's both fascinating and frightening to realize in the past 50 years, there have been nearly 1,000 victims of gun violence attributed to a 'mass shooting' - meaning, where at least 4 people have died at the hand of a lone shooter.

Because of these atrocities, and other sporadic occurrences of crime, gang, or police-related events, a firearm, for many, has become a symbol of fear. In the quote above, Dumas relates the "desire... to possess a weapon" stems directly from the concept of independence taking the place of liberty within a nation. I interpret this as the taking advantage of a government-given right, where instead of acting within the bounds of the nation's laws and society, an individual has taken it upon themselves to exercise that right independent of the bounds of the law.

This is where fear stems from; when too many deviate from the bounds of law and societal norms, they become a force that is fearsome with power, and feared by the masses - it goes against what is considered orderly.

In discussing firearms, they should be considered a powerful tool. Unfortunately, they have become a representation of using a tool for the wrong reason, by individuals who strive to feel powerful. When these two forces meet, what they hold is the power to cause chaos and death - and that just may be the most frightening power of all.

Fear and Freedom

"Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom."
- Marilyn Ferguson, American author

Simply put, it could be stated that governments were established to keep social order over a large populace. How they keep order drastically varies - and has been the catalyst for new ages throughout history - as oppressive governments tend not to hold well with the masses.

In the United States' history, both fear and freedom together have driven a multitude of huge events, including that of the Revolutionary War, The Civil Rights Movement, and the modern era of heightened military activity in the wake of 9/11. Fear of oppression and lack of standard freedoms drove colonists to war against the British Empire; the fight for equal rights for African-Americans sparked the Civil Rights movement; and, fear of foreign and domestic acts of terror led the US to rev up its military presence around the world.

Fear is a reaction. We observe something we cannot fully understand, fully control, or fully process, and most likely, we fear it.

Freedom is a state. We are unchained, unoppressed, and open to live as we please within a piece of society.

When freedom becomes hindered, fear often builds as a reaction to having that freedom stripped away. That freedom is no longer apart of how we live, so we must find another way to live as we did before. A government should not have its citizens living in fear due to restricted freedoms. If anything, there must be a better sort of transparency: here is what you can do, and this is why, within these bounds.

In Summary...

For me, upon reading about the history of gun violence in the US, Virginia's own gun laws, and how citizens' gun rights have been manipulated over the past few decades, I found that the most valuable thing that you can do to fight for a cause is simply to learn more about it.

The mass media has a tendency to generalize news, therefore creating more ambiguity for people that may considered themselves 'well informed' - but what really will cause change are the gritty details that lie hidden in a story.

As Nelson Mandela once said about the most powerful weapon...

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." – Nelson Mandela

For more information on the statistics behind major mass shooting in the US, follow this link from the Washington Post:

Thanks for reading!


Image 1.
Blankstein, A., Williams, P., Elbaum, R., & Chuck, E. (2017, October 02). Las Vegas Shooting: 59 Killed and More Than 500 Hurt Near Mandalay Bay. Retrieved October 23, 2017, from
Image 2.
Granlund, D. (2017, October). Las Vegas shooting. Retrieved October 23, 2017, from
Image 3. (header)
Berkowitz, B., Gamio, L., Lu, D., Uhrmacher, K., & Lindeman, T. (updated 2017, October 5th). The math of mass shootings. Retrieved October 23rd, 2017, from ://