The entrance to Guns & Guitars store is seen in Mesquite, Nevada, October 3, 2017. Stephen Paddock, who had purchased fire arms at Guns & Guitars, killed 59 people and wounded more than 500 when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 1, 2017. (Xinhua/AFP PHOTO)
by Peter Mertz
DENVER, the United States, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- As the echo of gunfire subsided and the bodies of 59 dead in Las Vegas were counted, distraught family members and gun-control advocates took center stage in America once again.
"It will never stop until we get leadership from the top that wants change," said Sandy Phillips, a national gun control advocate.
Phillips, whose 24-year-old daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora in the U.S state of Colorado, has dedicated her life to helping families to get over the loss of their loved ones due to mass shootings, and to fighting for gun control.
Last June, on the behest of former President Barack Obama, Phillips formed a team of parents to fly to Orlando to help families of the victims to cope with a shooting massacre in a nightclub that left 49 people dead.
Phillips told Xinhua that she might be in Las Vegas on a similar mission by week's end.
"It's time for Americans to use their voices," Phillips said. "Because we know that most Americans want to go to a church, a concert, school, a movie theater, and a nightclub, without worrying about military grade ammo being fired at them."
Phillips named locations where mass murders had occurred in the past few years, and across the country, gun control advocates were heeding her call.
"Today is the 275th day of 2017 and there have been 273 mass shootings," House representative Judy Chu tweeted Monday.
Mass shootings are when four or more people are slain by gunfire in one incident, according to the FBI.
Chu is the first Chinese American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, serving as the representative for California's 27th congressional district for the past eight years and has consistently championed gun control.
Jessica Yerkey (C) who attended the Route 91 country music festival reacts at a makeshift memorial on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 3, 2017. (Xinhua/AFP PHOTO)
While condolences and emotional angst flowed across America's social media Monday in the wake of Sunday night's assault on a country music concert crowd, the naysayers surfaced once again.
"Most of them (mass shootings) were Islamic radicals or crazed dems," Robin Hall tweeted.
Hall's remark was refuted by fact -- crazed white Americans with guns have perpetrated most of the recent mass shootings.
"This kind of terrorism is brought to you by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and all those who support the idea of semiautomatic weapons being in the hands of practically anyone," said Randy Hirzell, a home mover from Denver.
"More weapons and more dangerous weapons are killing us, not protecting us," said Hirzell, who tweeted, "The death rate from gun violence in the United States is on average 25 times higher than in high-income nations with sensible gun control laws."
Even former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton jumped into the debate Monday.
"Our grief isn't enough," Clinton tweeted. "We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again."
The gunman, identified as 64-year-old gambler Stephen Paddock, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel into the crowd at an outdoor music festival where Jason Aldean was playing.
"Perhaps the saddest fact about the horrifying mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night is that it won't be the last," said Stephen Silver, a San Francisco artist.
Silver posted a Las Vegas Sun editorial on Monday referencing last November's Nevada vote that "overwhelming supported universal background checks for firearms purchases."
"Now, it's time for Las Vegas-area lawmakers to go a step further to protect Nevadans and push to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines in the state," Silver said in the article.
"The media doesn't understand that anyone in the United States -- in any state besides Illinois -- can buy a machine gun -- or even more deadly weapons," Kent Harris, a NRA supporter told Xinhua.
"It takes about two years for the clearance to come through and then you can buy an automatic weapon," said Harris, who owns several machine guns.
"It's not the guns -- it's the people who are the problem," Harris said, repeating a common theme expressed by the powerful NRA.
"We're making strides state by state, but our federal laws are weakening the state laws such as silencers. It's that kind of thing that's controlled by the NRA and the gun lobby, who are exacerbating the situation and creating the mass murders," Phillips said.
"The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots," Clinton wrote. "Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get."
Pennsylvania psychiatrist Mary Pontzel tweeted Monday that "mass murderers are highly unstable individuals, some of whom are looking to be famous (or infamous), and that desire should not be rewarded, even posthumously."
Pontzel said that media coverage of (the massacres) stigmatizes others with related diagnoses, most of whom suffer greatly but rarely become dangerous enough even to harm an individual person, much less carry out a mass murder.
After the Aurora theater massacre, Tom and Caren Teves, whose son Alex was murdered in the shooting, started the now famous "no notoriety" campaign that encourages the U.S. media not to name the killers.