After every mass shooting — and there are many — an outpouring of thoughts and prayers makes the rounds on social media. But for many parents, the time for thoughts and prayers has come and gone.
More than 50 people died and hundreds more were injured during Sunday night's shooting in Las Vegas. And while today has been punctuated by sadness, it's not the only emotion many parents are feeling. For many, anger at easy access to deadly firearms has bubbled to the surface.
By Monday afternoon, The New York Times reported that more than 20 rifles had been found in the hotel room of the gunman, who was discovered dead by police. Of those rifles, many were AR-15 style semi-automatic assault weapons.
The AR-15 is one of the most popular rifles in the country. In 2013, the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated that there were between 5–8.2 million AR-15s in circulation in the U.S.
AR-15 models have magazines that hold 15-30 bullets, but can be modified to hold hundreds of bullets. In eyewitness videos of the shooting, dozens of shots can be heard in immediate succession.
AR-15s or similar weapons have been used in the majority of deadly shootings in the U.S., including the shootings at Sandy Hook, the Pulse nightclub, the Aurora movie theater and the San Bernadino office party. Originally designed for military use, AR-15s were illegal under the 1994 federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. Attempts to reinstate the ban in some form have been unsuccessful.
Family members who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook took to Twitter to express their sadness at another preventable shooting. Nelba Marquez-Greene, who lost her daughter at Sandy Hook, has been an outspoken advocate for gun control since her daughter's death. She tweeted dozens of times today about her frustration at our nation's inability to take meaningful action after Sandy Hook.
— Nelba Márquez-Greene (@Nelba_MG) October 2, 2017
Erica Lafferty, who lost her mother at Sandy Hook, also had harsh words for President Donald Trump after yesterday's tragedy.
50 victims are dead. The families are destroyed-FOREVER. Get the hell up & DO SOMETHING. Need advice? I have 1st hand experience. Call me. https://t.co/M2vdTY71N1
— Erica L Lafferty (@ELaffGarb) October 2, 2017
Other parents looked for protection after the shooting, turning to everyone from their representatives to their God to keep them safe.
— MomDad (@bothmomanddad) October 2, 2017
Not every parent was looking for gun control, however. Some took to Twitter to suggest another solution: more guns.
— Kiyya Wulfric (@SchooldAndInAwe) October 2, 2017
A recent analysis by Stanford University, however, found that more guns don't make us safer. Rather, researchers found that states that have enacted right-to-carry concealed handgun laws experience increased rates of violent crime.
Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, issued this statement this morning: "I am sickened and heartbroken that, once again, American families will be torn apart by gun violence. My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones, whose lives will never be the same. While details are still unfolding, one thing is for sure: It doesn’t have to be this way. Americans should be able to go to concerts, to night clubs, to elementary schools and movie theaters without worrying about the threat of gun violence. While we grieve for the 50 people shot and killed and the more than 400 who are hospitalized, we must also act in their honor. Gun violence is preventable."
If history is any indicator, no action will come of this shooting. Even after Sandy Hook, when American was confronted with dead first graders, gun control reform proved unsuccessful. Even now, Congress is still preparing to advance a bill to make gun silencers legal.
Without meaningful action, the next mass shooting isn't a matter of if, but when. And no amount of thoughts or prayers will change that.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect that the majority of children who were killed at Sandy Hook were first graders, not kindergarteners.