In October, a man fired indiscriminately from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas into a crowd of country music concertgoers, killing 58 people.
The massacre at the Route 91 Harvest music festival marked the single deadliest mass shooting in recent memory. Authorities found 23 guns in the gunman’s hotel room, about half of which were equipped with bump stocks that allowed for rapid fire, according to the Washington Post.
A month later, 26 people, including an unborn child, were killed at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, when a 26-year-old man shot at parishioners with an assault-style rifle, the Post reported.
As of Dec. 12, there have been 11 total mass shootings in 2017 amounting to 117 fatalities, according to a database from Mother Jones. The magazine identified mass shootings as shootings that occurred in public spaces where three or more people were killed.
The homicide rate in the United States as tapered drastically since the 1980s and 90s but the number of mass shootings, fueled by access to military style weapons and large capacity ammunition, has grown, said Steven Jansen, director of Prosecutors against Gun Violence.
Despite the drop off in overall fatal shooting deaths, the 24-hour news cycle has increased regular exposure to violence.
“People might not have the perception that they’re … actually safer today,” said Jansen, who is also a lecturer at American University.
The aftermath of mass shootings in the last decade has, by and large, prompted little legislative response, Jansen said. In 2004, a ban on assault weapons expired after Democrats failed to convince Congress to renew it.
In the aftermath of the Newtown shooting, in which 26 people, the majority of whom were young children, were killed, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) introduced a bill in 2013 that would have restored the assault weapons ban. That effort also failed.
But the political will to impose more stringent regulations on firearms may have shifted after the bloodshed at the country music festival.
“After Vegas, the discussions changed a little bit and we’ll see if lawmakers have the will to actually implement some of this legislation,” Jansen said.
Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation in October intended to outlaw bump stock devices that, according to the bill, accelerates gunfire of a semiautomatic rifles.
“An American concert venue has now become a battlefield. We must stop this now.”
The proposed law would ban the sale, manufacture, transfer, import and possession of bump stocks and similar firearm accessories, the bill states.
In a news release, Feinstein said that semi-automatic rifles generally fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute. Bump stocks, she wrote, accelerate the rate of fire to between 400 and 800 in the same amount of time.
“An American concert venue has now become a battlefield. We must stop this now,” Feinstein said. “The only reason to fire so many rounds so fast is to kill large numbers of people.”
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