GW Expert Discusses Federal Gun Law Prospects after Las Vegas Shootings

GSPM Legislative Affairs Program Director Steven Billet says bills will be introduced with little likelihood of passage.

Legislative Affairs Program Director Steven Billet.
October 02, 2017

The mass shooting Sunday night at an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas is the deadliest such event in modern U.S. history with 58 people killed and more than 500 wounded as of early Monday afternoon, according to authorities. After other mass shootings, including the attack at Sandy Hook and two instances in which members of the U.S. House of Representatives, were victims of shootings, there have been attempts in Congress to pass bills to tighten gun control laws. Steven Billet, director of the Legislative Affairs Program at the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, spoke with GW Today on prospects for gun legislation after this latest mass shooting.

Q: Is the scale of the number of dead and injured in the Las Vegas shootings enough to get some movement in Congress on gun control issues?

A: At the risk of being cynical, nothing is likely to happen in this Congress as a result of this shootings. The gun rights lobby overwhelms the opposition, and the Republican Party serves as dummies for the NRA ventriloquists.

Q: Why does the issue of gun control seem to be the one for which there is no movement at the federal level?

A: Single events are simply not enough to move the needle for more than a few days. The NRA has a massive program that took them years to build and which mobilizes its membership every day. The gun control lobby is puny by comparison.

Q: What types of legislation could possibly come as a result of this latest mass shooting?

A:  Much could be introduced ranging from enhanced background checks to restrictions on large capacity magazines to restrictions on gun show sales. The bigger issue is what might pass. Probably nothing.

If you or someone you know has been personally affected by the shootings in Las Vegas, please file a CARE report at Students living off campus can contact the Office of Student Support and Family Engagement for support and to access additional university resources. Students living on campus can also speak with their RAs.

Mental health professionals are always available to speak to GW students and consult with faculty, staff or parents about any mental health-related concerns. Mental Health Services at the Colonial Health Center are available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (202) 994-5300. 

The majority of MHS services are free, including the initial consultation, crisis support in person or by phone and the first several individual counseling sessions.



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