Press Release

IACHR Condemns Mass Shooting in the United States

October 6, 2017

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) condemns the attack that took place on October 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, which left at least 59 dead and more than 500 injured, according to the reports consulted at the time of writing the present press release. The IACHR urges the federal and Nevada state authorities to undertake immediate steps to thoroughly investigate the mass shooting and the underlying causes that led to it, including urgent legislative measures to reduce gun-related violence and prevent future tragedies.

According to public information, at least 23 rifles, including AR-15-style assault rifles, were found in the hotel room of the gunman, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Some reports indicate that at least three of these were purchased legally within the last year. An additional 19 guns were found in his house. The United States is the developed country with the highest firearm murder rate, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Small Arms Survey. Multiple scientific studies have demonstrated that this fact is closely correlated with the rate of gun ownership which, at 88.8 guns per 100 people, is the highest in the world.

The Las Vegas shooting is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The June 2016 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, which left 49 dead, was previously the deadliest. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a total of 521 mass shootings have occurred in the United States in the 477 days since the shooting in Orlando, where mass shooting is defined as four or more individuals being shot or killed in the same general time and location. There have been more than 1,500 mass shootings—leaving at least 1,715 people dead and 6,089 wounded—since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.

“We unequivocally condemn the horrific mass shooting in Nevada, and express our sincerest condolences to the victims, their families, and all those affected by this tragedy,” said Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, Rapporteur for the United States.

“The most egregious thing about this latest mass murder is that such events are preventable. This again highlights the need for broad systemic reform of gun laws in the United States. As long as average citizens continue to have relatively free access to heavy weaponry, including military-grade assault rifles, mass shootings are certain to continue to take place. The United States Congress must take immediate action to reform the laws that enable these tragedies to happen,” she added.

The IACHR reiterates that the United States must take effective measures to prevent and substantially reduce gun-related violence, such as through effective gun control policies. Multiple academic studies of data across decades and across countries have demonstrated that the factors that are conducive to violent environments include easy access to firearms and the large number of guns in the hands of private individuals, findings in line with previous recommendations of the Commission and the UN’s last Universal Periodic Review cycle for the United States. The IACHR reiterates the importance of effective background checks and psychological testing, as well as other effective measures on license and registration requirements. This includes restrictions on assault weapons, such as the AR-15-style rifle used by the gunman in this attack, so that their possession is limited to State forces, due to their lethal nature.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and defense of human rights in the region, and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 154/17